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Our Peace Rests on Him Alone / Third mid-week in Advent

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be on His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

By now, you have your plans for Christmas set in place. December 25 is so close that you can’t be guessing and wishing anymore. You need some planning. Who is coming to your house for Christmas? When are they getting there? Is everyone staying with you? What are you eating? How are you going to balance the four different diets that are coming together? Remember, all these people are going to be sitting at your table for the same meal. This takes some planning.

Of course, all this depends on you getting them to the same table at the same time. You’ve got the guests who always come a half hour early and then there are the ones who think that 1:00 p.m. means 3:30 p.m. And don’t forget what happened last time Cousin Sue sat next to Uncle Frank. Plan your seating chart carefully.

Maybe peace can come if we can get these people into the right place and at the right time. It’s a bit like the circus master who directs jugglers, acrobats, lions, dogs, and elephants. If everyone would only listen and do what you tell them, there would be peace. This is the hope of every grandmother who plans Christmas dinner for the whole family. Control is the theme of our peace tonight.

Tonight, we finish the points on our star. We’ve been pursuing peace. Our first point at the top of the star was the pursuit of more possessions. If only we could get all we dream of, we’d have peace. But God stops us with the gift of a baby born in a stable. With Him lying in the manger, we have more than enough, and we find peace. Last week, we pursued peace in the two horizontal points of the star. We were looking for peace in the distance. If only we could get away to a perfect retreat. Or if only we could get away from our past, then we’d find peace. But again, God catches us and gives us peace in the present. Our peace is not in a distant retreat but in this very moment. God’s peace is present even when the storm is raging.

So tonight, we have the last two points of our star. These are the bottom points where the weight rests. To manage all that weight and all our plans, we need to take control. And if we had that control, then there would be peace. Wouldn’t it be reasonable that God would help us in this? God wants us all to get along and get through at least one weekend in peace. After all, isn’t that the very name by which we know the Messiah, the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6)? Wouldn’t it be fitting that the celebration of His birth would be celebrated in peace?

We hear this call for peace in the words of Hebrews: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Paul says: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

Can we bring enough control over our world, so we have this peace? Getting everyone to follow our plans is the second of the two bottom points of the star. Control of others becomes our purpose. When we’re so busy getting ready for Christmas, we might ask ourselves, “Why am I doing all this? It takes a lot of work to get ready for Christmas. Why bother?” If you’re wondering that yourself, it’s time to find peace and purpose. What will be enough to give us meaning in all that has yet to be done before Christmas? Find that, and we imagine that we will have our peace.

But God stops our search for control and purpose. Peace is not in our tight grasp over others. Peace is not in our plans. Peace comes through the Prince of Peace. It’s His kingdom that brings peace and His work as the Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God that gives order to our world. If we search for that peace of control, Jesus shows us another control. In Matthew 10, Jesus asks if we expect Him to bring peace. He says that He came to bring not peace but a sword. He came to set two against three, three against two. He came to divide family members from one against another. This is the very opposite of goals of control and outward peace. We want the peace that comes from getting everyone to agree with us. But what brings peace to the world?

Jesus brings peace by stepping into the middle of our troubled world and letting Himself be the center of the world’s anger. In that center, He brings us peace through the cross. Peace has come through what seems to be chaos. Being the Prince of Peace, His peace has endured thousands of years. Our best plans won’t always make it through one meal, but His peace, like His kingdom, is without end. He comes as the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father so that His peace might reign over the world.

This gives us a new purpose and a new peace. The star of peace does not rest on our plans and control. God’s peace doesn’t come by our control of others. Peace comes by hearing His Word, the Word that controls us. We might not be able to embrace everyone at the right time and place. Our plans might not work out. But our real goal is to focus on God’s plans, the plans that have come true.

It’s like the story of our gifts. When we were young, we simply wanted the gift. But when we became older, it was the story of the gift that mattered. It was hearing how long someone looked for the right color or size and how the gift was hidden in the back of the closet. The gift was good, but it was the story that was the key. We find God’s gift in the simplicity of the manger and a newborn baby. But the key to peace is hearing the story of how He made our peace. He built it with the straw of the manger and the wood and nails of the cross. He made that peace through the ages of promise and the waiting for His coming. The gift of the Prince of Peace came by the perfect planning of God, who arranged the world for the birth of His Son.

So, the gift of peace has come through the birth of the Child, the Son of God. The Prince of Peace has come with His gift of peace, and the story of that peace lives on. What will bring us peace when so many of our plans are still undone? We find our peace rests not in our work but in following Him, the Prince of Peace. He filled the manger and the cross. That’s where we find our peace. Peace rests on Him, and we rest in faith in all that He has done for us. Amen.