This is Pastor Tim’s article as published in the Evening Leader on Dec 2, 2019.
We have arrived at the time of the year known as Advent. It is the time of the year when we are lighting candles and counting down the weeks until we celebrate the birth of Jesus at a little holiday known as Christmas. Even though churches always have readings that accompany the lighting of the candles, it has been my experience that not everyone listens to those readings. So I want to use the rest of my articles between now and Christmas to share what those candles on the Advent wreath mean. Each of these candles are lit to remind us of one part of the Christmas story. It will help us focus on what is really important as we seek to keep Christ in CHRISTmas.
The first candle represents peace, which is, when you really think about it, is almost funny. We have this sort of rosy Hallmark-like idea of Christmas. Does that match any of your experiences of this season? In our quest for the perfect gift, the perfect cookie, the perfect ugly Christmas sweater and the perfect card to send to your in-laws who live out of state, does anyone have time for this mysterious peace experience?
That is why we misunderstand peace. We think it happens in a vacuum. It does not. In the way our lives are today, any space that is left over is filled with ringing phones, text messages, Facebook, the next obligation we are already late for. We believe there will be peace as soon as “this” is done. What is that great “this” that is destroying everyone’s peace? Who knows? It is a different “this” every day.
If we are waiting for life to just make space for peace, then we won’t live long enough for that to happen. There are way too many “thises” (thises is plural of this) to allow enough space for peace to happen. You have a ton of “this” today, you will have a whole bunch more “this” tomorrow. So take it from a guy who has spent his life on his last “this” only to find out there is no end to the long line of “this” in the world. There will always be one more thing to do, one more goal to accomplish and one more task to complete. To have any delusion that you are going to get enough done that peace will automatically happen is to be chasing peace while running on a treadmill.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, peace isn’t something that comes to us naturally. Peace is something we have to pursue. We have to go after peace and claim it for ourselves. The world isn’t going to let up. We have many examples of Jesus taking a moment to step away in order to have some peace, because Jesus knew the Truth in more ways than one. He knew the Truth that peace was never going to naturally roll down to Him. If He wanted to have some peace, He had to go out and claim it, which is exactly what He did.
So our Advent journey begins. If you are waiting for peace to just happen, for everything and everyone to no longer place demands on you, then you will have no peace until you rest in peace. Life doesn’t work that way. Peace is something we have to claim. That is why we light this first candle on the Advent wreath. We are beginning this journey toward Christmas by declaring that, in the midst of the insanity of our normal lives that will be added to by the craziness of the holiday season, we will not miss the chance to have some peace, to give our minds a chance to quiet down and our hearts a chance to achieve a resting heart rate.
Are there a lot of things to do during this season? Of course there are, and they are all important. We will have to make choices about what can be done and what will be done. But keep that first candle in the Advent wreath in your mind. One of the most important parts of this season is peace and, if you go from now until New Years Day running at a sprinters pace, you will have missed one of the most important components of this sacred and wonderful holiday season.