Today’s Reading: Click Here – Matthew 2:1-12 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)
Looking at our scripture passage today, it tells the story of the Wise Men and their travels far and wide to see the King of the Jews, and how they responded with adorning joy, pure worship and extravagant gifts, which is quite a different approach we may see these days. Often, one may expect God to come looking for them, to explain Himself, prove who He is, and give them gifts. But those who are WISE will seek Him and worship Him, NOT for what they can get but for WHO Jesus is.
It was the acknowledgement of a future king that the wise men sought after the news of a king born in Bethlehem, and presented exquisite gifts. These gifts symbolized Jesus’ identity and what greatness He would accomplish; Gold was a gift of royalty; Frankincense was a gift of deity; and myrrh was a spice used for anointing a body for burial. They brought gifts and worshiped Jesus for who He was, even as a baby, born in stable. The true essence of worship is honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him all that is valuable to us. As the perfect almighty Creator of all, He is worthy of the best we have to give.
Just like the wise men were warned by God to not return back the same path traveled after finding the baby Jesus, we too may be called to take a new direction or path in life when we experience and find Jesus, one that is responsive and obedient to God’s word. A path that is most rewarding and full of life. A new life we choose when we acknowledge, trust and follow Jesus.
As we come into our final week of Advent, and Christmas is just days away, we light the Advent candle of PEACE and we recall what the angels proclaimed “Peace on Earth” when the Baby Jesus was born. Today, we wonder, as we listen to the evening news, is peace really possible? I believe it is and that two kinds are of peace exist and are needed in our lives; inner peace; peace of mind, heart and soul. The second being an outward peace; peace with others. Through scripture, God addresses both and He tells us how to acquire and experience them.
Inner peace hinges on our trust in God (Matthew 22:34-40) and begins with a personal relationship with Jesus. (Make it personal). As we cultivate our relationship and faith, exchanging our weaknesses for His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), we can cling to God’s words from Isaiah 26:3, and personalize it ; “[God] will keep [me] in perfect peace as my mind is devoted to Him and I fully trust in Him.”
Perhaps, inner peace is eluding you these days and anxiety is spilling over in your life. It’s no surprise given the circumstances and situations all around us that we all seem to be experiencing, this year especially. We have to CHOOSE to trust God and draw from His source of power for patience and wisdom to move forward as He guides us through our maze of life. And when we CHOOSE to trust Him in those blind corners of anxiety, stress and worry, we can begin to experience inner peace as he leads us down that road. Choosing not to trust Him can create a downward spiral to disaster, unsettled stress and discontent. Inner peace is there for the choosing when our heart and mind aligns with what God’s word confirms. Various forms of training, techniques, or practices such as, centered prayer, meditation breathing exercises or journaling are just some ways to help settle our mind, heart and soul as peace sets in.
The Second kind of peace mentioned is defined in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God”. God has called each of us to be peacemakers in our world. This is no easy task, but when we understand what God is calling us to do, we can accept and embrace this call to love others and bear peace in broken relationships, shattered lives and our imperfect world. Don’t miss the blessings that God promises to us when we respond to His call to be a peacemaker, bearing peace, one heart at a time.
With our attention on being a peacemaker and wondering what does that look like, I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me show love; Where there is injury, show pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy… Divine Master; Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Be the source of peace and light in a darkened world that so desperately needs more Jesus, and with more Jesus, He is our perfect and unfailing portion of love, hope and peace to share with the world. May the HOPE, LOVE, FAITH and PEACE that is born on Christmas day, be the REASON for the season to celebrate the birth of our Messiah, Eternal Savior, Almighty Son of God, Good Shepherd, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.
Here are a few songs for your spiritual listening pleasure and Advent meditation:
Lord Jesus, regardless of our circumstances or our situations, you offer us peace that surpasses all understanding, now through the Christmas season and always, no matter what our chaos or situation bids us otherwise. Lord, keep us in your perfect peace as our hearts and minds are secure in your love. We look to you for our guidance, wisdom, hope and peace this day. We pray this and so much more in our mighty Savior, Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Merry Christmas, Kris