During Advent we remember the coming of the Prince of Peace, the King to whom all authority has been given. We look forward to his coming again, and we pray that our hearts are ready to receive him when he does.
“And (John) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ””
(Luke 3:3–6, ESV)
Peace is an ever-elusive thing. The peace most of us experience is a fickle peace that comes normally at the expense of someone else. It is short-lived. We are haunted by our doubts, and plagued by our circumstances. But the peace of Christ, bought and paid for on the cross, is complete and perfect. He restores to us peace between humankind and our Creator. He restores to us peace with fellow man, the natural world, and ourselves. Everything we lost in the Fall, we gain again through Christ. In a paraphrase of Buechner, this is not a peace that is the absence of struggle, but it is the presence of love in spite of trouble. This is the promise of Christianity, that we will be sustained through trial and troubles until that day comes. This hope gives us peace, and it can be more than just a hope and a promise. Peace can be reality.
But this is not the only peace we are promised. There is the future complete peace on this Earth established when Jesus returns again. While we have peace in this life, in the here and now, we also have a promise of a complete peace in Christ’s kingdom. Our faith in that promise of peace is not a mere crutch on which we lean, it is a guaranteed reality, and we look forward to its fulfillment.
Until that day when we see him again, ours is the responsibility to live repentant lives of lively faith. To acknowledge our sin to God and man, and to seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. These are keys to our personal peace. The repentant heart finds peace with God and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.