So far this advent we have talked about hope, love, and joy.
Today on this last Sunday of advent we are going to talk about peace.
Peace is often understood as an absence of war.
True peace is so much more than this.
True peace is the absence of hostility and fear from within ourselves, with our neighbors, with our world.
Even more it is the presence of hope, love, and joy.
Peace is the condition of life I believe we all most want and desire.
And peace is what we search for long for.
It is why we continue almost 2,000 years later to come to worship Jesus.
It is why all of you are here this morning.
You seek peace.
You seek your soul’s rest, for conflict to be removed, for hostility and fear to end.
Peace is so desired and yet so far from us.
In the history of the world there has been 3 days of peace!
And not even consecutive days.
I would guess that very few of us in our lives experience this much peace.
It is no wonder the world is always at war.
We are always at war within ourselves.
How many of us right now are carrying burdens of past relationships damaged?
How many of us are fighting with a member of our own family, or with another member of this congregation?
Forget the global implications of peace on a micro level we have a hard enough time finding and making peace.
Peace is important.
Did you know that the reason we pass the peace with one another before communion is to obey Christ command in the Gospel of Matthew.
There Jesus tells us basically that “Before you come to the altar make peace with one another.”
It is why I try to pass the peace with everyone in the congregation before communion.
If I had offended anyone during my sermon I want to make sure we are ok before we take the Lord’s body and blood together.
Jesus showed us that having peace was important for our spiritual well being.
Peace is hard.
But every Sunday we come.
We come looking for Jesus to give us peace.
What we read from the Gospel of Luke this morning is how Jesus brought peace to a troubled world.
Mary knew that the baby she was carrying was special.
She believed the witness of the angel.
As Elisabeth says to Mary, “blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Do we believe what has been spoken to us about Jesus?
Do we believe that Jesus can and will bring peace?
Jesus brings peace into our lives in many ways.
He brings peace through forgiveness.
One of the things that upsets us, and hurts us is that we make mistakes.
This brings hostility to our souls.
What brings peace is the forgiveness we have received through Jesus Christ.
Jesus brings peace through eternal life.
One of our great fears is death and loss.
I believe the reason for this is that it is one of the things beyond our control.
We like control and when things are out of our control we have turmoil in ourselves.
Jesus has assured us that even in death God is in control.
When we have faith in Jesus there is a peace that passes our understanding, and gives control to the God who is always faithful.
Jesus brings peace through revealing God to us.
One of the great things about Mary’s song is that she uplifts the truth of God’s work in the world.
It is often hidden from our eyes.
We simply do not always know what God is up to.
We don’t know why a five year old girl dies of a mysterious blood disease.
What Jesus shows us is that we can know certain things about God.
One of those things is that God will always be in what the world despises.
God will be in the week, the lowly, the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, the merciful, the lost.
This is good news for us.
Because it means we can stop trying to find God where the world tells us to look.
Stop trying to find God in the unknown.
Instead look to your brother and sister next to you.
Look at those who are hurting and in pain.
That is where God is.
In Elie Wiesel’s book Night people are standing in line waiting to go into the consecration camps.
They can smell death.
One of the characters says, “Where is God in all this?”
Another character points to the hanging gallows and says, “There. That is where God is.”
I think in Christmas admits everything that is going on most of all we should remember that Christ showed up in the most unlikely of places.
He showed up born to a pregnant teenager, a poor carpenter, born in the stable of smelly animals, announced to poor shepherds.
What I believe is that he shows up in all of our lives.
But in ways we are not looking for.
In the middle of our hostility, and our fear God shows up and saves us, redeems us.
As Mary Sings, “The mighty one has done great things for me.”
I have found that Jesus brings us a peace.
We find a new way to be in the world.
We find a new way to exists with the people around us.
That is why we continue to come to worship this Jesus Christ.
Because with him we receive peace in our lives.
It is a peace that allows us to cut through loss and damage and to see God.
Jesus allows us to see God working through, in, and under our lives.
Jesus allows us to have peace with one another, within ourselves, and with the world.
Jesus allows us to forgive ourselves.
Jesus allows us to forgive others.
Jesus allows us to have eternal life.
Jesus allows us to see God in the difficult times.
Jesus takes away our hostility and replaces it with peace.
I ask you to consider if after having been in worship.
After having received the body and blood of Jesus.
After having heard his love for you do you not feel at peace.
I know I do.
All week long my world can be falling apart.
But at least for an hour every Sunday I am here, and I am at peace.
The trick is for us then to take that peace and bring it into the world.
To share it with our families, our friends, our neighbors, strangers, and if we get really good our enemies.
Then and only then are we able to create true and lasting peace.
I want to leave you all with a quote I like, “Peace is achieved one person at a time, through a series of friendships.”
I like this quote because it brings into perspective the task of creating peace.
It is a daily job one we have to work on all the time, and it is never done until we all have made friends even with our enemies, and even within our own sinful selves.
It seems like an impossible task but we keep working at it.
And every week when we gather we work at bringing peace into our lives through Jesus Christ.
Because for us as Christians peace is achieved through knowing Jesus.
It is through remembering God’s promises and the benefits of a life of faith.
God is working in each of our lives.
God is working through us the lowly and forgotten to bring peace.
And so this Christmas season we say once again, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”