During this season of Advent, as you see before us here, we light candles, adding one more each week. One way these can be looked at is representing four important needs of all people everywhere: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I decided to look back on that first week of Hope, and also think ahead to this coming one of Peace, and see what we can obtain from each. In Advent we are supposed to be preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus, and this seems to me to be a way to do this.
So, this past week we were to think about Hope. How did I experience Hope? As you might know, I have been dealing with health issues, specifically recent heart problems, which have been coming forth over the past several months. Last Monday I had an internal Echocardiogram test to follow up on the external one I had 2 weeks ago. Previously the doctors had found I have a weak heart muscle, which they have been treating with meds for the past 3 months, and this has been found to be successful so far—almost back to normal function. The test Monday, though, found that in addition I have 2 heart valves not working properly, and that I need to have surgery on them in the next month or so. I know these types of things are to be taken seriously, but I somehow had this feeling during this week that there was hope in knowing what the issue really was now, and that it can be corrected. So, it’s time to take that hope and proceed into an experience that many others have already dealt with.
And I know I’m not on my own with this. Thank you, Corby, for offering to do the sermon this week, once you knew what I had on my near term plate this week. Thank you all for your presence in my life to make it the rich one it is and continues to be each day. And thanks be to God for the opportunity to serve.
What else gives me hope this week? Finding out that at the last minute Hoquiam First Baptist church stepped up to have the tent city folks move there for the next three months--and the move was very simple this time last Tuesday. Seeing the 200 nations working on a plan to reduce global warming. Visiting the Episcopal church in Darrington near where the Oso landslide tragedy occurred last year and seeing our fellow Episcopalians there continuing to represent Christ to that community and helping where they can. Seeing Montesano High kids coming around bringing bags to fill with food for the Food Bowl. I bet there are many other hopeful things we could think of.
This week we look at Peace. In our readings today the word Peace appears in two of them. And implications of this coming Peace all appear in most all of them, in declaring the coming of the “messenger of the covenant”, “a mighty savior”, “the prophet of the Most High”, “in the day of Christ” and “the voice of one crying out.”
I know Peace did not seem to be much in our general view this past week. What with the San Bernardino mass killings, and the paranoia that seems to prevail in its aftermath, it is hard to see Peace breaking out. From the immediate reaction of even more guns sales, to the president of Liberty University telling his students to take a free class and then go out and get and pack weapons on campus, to a sheriff in Arizona exhorting the public to arm themselves up and be his deputies on the streets of Phoenix, and even a local overreaction to seeing a practicing Muslim in their garb walking along Monte-Elma Road on Friday morning and several people calling police to have him checked out.
There needs to be peace prevail in order to have a world worthy of all of God’s people, and we can be leaders and examples in helping Peace show up in these times of hate and evil. We can call out those who characterize all people of any group as evil and extremist, we can help stop the paranoia we see around us and the crazed reactions it leads to in being a community. And we can point out that being a Christian (or one of any other faith or non-faith (and not being one of the few extremists types that try to claim those religions) means we are actually together as one in how we believe all people should be treated. We can be civil, we can be kind, and we can help each other to achieve the Peace that should be here.
In Isaiah 9, the passage that we will read on Christmas Eve, it describes the future coming Jesus as follows: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us…and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” What else do we need to know about Peace? Let’s help with and look for Peace this week! I know I am use some!