Hope and Peace. Is there anything our world needs more than these? So many of us are just plain tired. In this world of chronic diseases, betrayal, brokenness, abuse, a broken heart from a source you could never have predicted, you watch the news for fifteen minutes and you can be horrified.
But it is THIS world that our Jesus comes. Our Jesus, born in a stable, among the filth, the unmucked out animal feces, the hay that makes you itch. Born to a teenage mother, who said yes despite the magnificent mess it would make of her life. This same Jesus who dies in an equally bloody way, a gruesome death on a cross between two criminals.
“God entered our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable Glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability need”(Brennan Manning). It makes me mad some days. The scandal of it. I want him to come in a blaze. I want him to be in ease…I want him to give me ease. Ease to the whole world. To the sad and the broken. I just want him to fix it.
But our Jesus. He now lives in an even more grotesque place. An even bloodier mess. Perhaps the goriest place you can find. The human heart. Mine. Yours. Those of us that invite Him, have the Holy Spirit in us now. And this holy spirit invites you into the mess of this world. Jesus bids you to step into it with him. He could have done this so many ways, redeemed us, reclaimed us. It could have been so much easier, so much more magnificent. But our God invites us to the depths, to the real, to perhaps the only authentic place where there is no hiding. There is no more facade. There is no social media to bolster you, no friends to protect you, no reputation that proceeds you. No. Our Jesus is willing to get his hands dirty. He draws in the dirt, heals with the mud…
Jesus has many things for you in this life. Life to the full and abundant. But it will likely not be a pinterest perfect love story, a picture perfect family, never a problem free existence. Even when things are really falling into place, the monotony of this old world can wear you down (just wait till you have to make school lunches). I was watching breaking bad the other night, and I see why so many are intrigued by it. The truth is people are bored. They are chasing a dream that doesn’t exist. Hedonism for its own sake. Anesthetic to try and drown the mind collapsing from the boredom of it.
Lots of us throw around words like calling a lot. But what I see in scripture is Jesus calling you to be hope, light and peace. Calling you to speak un-retractable hope to the hopeless. Peace to the tormented. To embody joy even in the most broken of days. It is this that a broken world needs. People think you can get it done right and things will just work out. I don’t see that in scripture. I see us stepping into the broken with him. Our spirits softening, our hearts being wrung with his BUT still we cling to hope, to peace. We enter into it.
Nelson Mandela died this week. And we have sterilized him into an icon of peace haven’t we? We trapped his face into quote photos like a cartoon. He was not. There were times in his life were he was named terror. He was imprisoned for 27 years and he let the mess and the torment shape him into a man of Peace. He maintained hope in the face of atrocity. He said
“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying”. The very worst face of humanity. He found out what it meant to pursue reconcilliation…PEACEMAKING IS NOT SITTING ON YOUR HANDS. It is active and it is hard work. Hope does not flourish when we are selfish. These are traits that we need to pursue.
So tell me church. As you wait for Gods redeeming work to complete where can you join him??? This week…pray about where you can be peace. Look for the subtle cracks in broken relationships, the fissures that could explode into anger. Where can you join in the work that He is already doing? Where can you stand against the gap maker?
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
(My kids lit the advent candles tonight…I near died it made my heart ache in the very best way.)
The first candle of Advent is the candle of Hope; the second is the candle of Peace. We light this candle to remind us that our Lord Jesus brings peace to all who trust in Him.
Let us pray:
Loving God, thank You for the peace You give to us through Jesus. May Christ’s light shine in our lives, showing us the path of peace between God and all people. Help us to prepare our hearts to receive His peace. We ask in the name of the One born in Bethlehem. Amen.
And every time I try and speak someone says what I want to say about 8000 times better. OH Ann Voskamp. THIS.