category: Advent

Advent

Many of us are entering into this season of Advent troubled in our spirits. Peace is a major theme of Advent (see, for example, Isaiah 9:1–7, Isaiah 11:1–9, Luke 2:14, Philippians 4:7, among other texts in this devotional). The coming of Jesus has brought peace to all of creation. Further, during Advent we renew our expectations for the return of Christ, who will remove evil forever; we celebrate this gift of peace and our hopes for a true, lasting peace are strengthened.

This gift of peace, however, carries with it a responsibility; we are also called to be peacemakers. Those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus the Messiah are given the gift of peace, but also are called to strive for peace.

Jesus himself encourages us with his words from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers … ” (Matthew 5:9). In Romans we also hear: “If it is possible … live peaceably with all” (12:18). Today, receiving the gift of God’s peace in Christ can be a challenge. Working for peace is even more difficult. Our present culture has degraded into an “us vs. them” mentality. We lob verbal grenades at each other through Facebook posts and tweets. Sadly, followers of Jesus are not immune to this behavior.

This Advent I encourage us to accept God’s gift of peace that is found in Jesus Christ. Know, however, that peacemaking is hard work. Making peace requires putting ourselves and our agendas aside and listening to those with whom we disagree. We recognize especially in this season that God sent Jesus to earth for all people, even the ones with whom we differ. “God so loved the world … ” means all people, not just those who think, act, and look like me.

I pray that this devotional will bring peace and inspire you this Advent season. I want especially to thank all those who wrote devotions, as well as my colleagues Dr. Danny West, Dr. Cal Robertson, Lisa Hollifield, and Caitlin Foster for their contributions. Again, we remember our former colleague, Dr. Dan Goodman, with gratitude for his foresight regarding this Advent devotional.

Go in peace. Go and make peace.

Jim McConnell, Associate Dean
Professor of New Testament Interpretation

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Advent Reflection: Day 1

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