In December of 1995, my family experienced a Christmas like no other. My youngest daughter, not even a year yet, had a spiral fracture of her femur. The path to healing required a rigid cast that extended down from her chest to her toes. Diaper changes, eating, sleeping, and surviving were incredibly difficult for us. As her mother, I struggled to create a joyful Christmas for our family. We became the default hosts for all the extended family because my daughter couldn’t fit in a car seat and had to stay home.
This all might have been challenging enough; however, both sets of our parents were bitterly divorced and avoided spending any time together. Usually, my husband and I went on tour with our two daughters and visited each of them in their respective homes, so they could all avoid having an uncomfortable time together. This year, we could not do that for them. Instead, we invited each of them to join us.
Hosting a Christmas Day gathering with extended family lines out various hosting jobs that must be done. Hosting requires food preparation, setting the table, washing dishes, and playing with children while adults finish in the kitchen. My husband and I typically divide and conquer; however, this year, we couldn’t all do it. So as each parent arrived, jobs were assigned, and somehow peace did reign in our home.
Two thousand years ago, a tiny baby in a manger named Jesus changed everything and brought true peace. Twenty-seven years ago, a baby’s injuries brought a fractured family back together. At some point in the middle of that day, I distinctly recall looking across the room and seeing my father playing with my older daughter on the floor. She had a brand-new castle toy, and my father was gently carrying the princess up the stairs, to my three-year-old’s great delight.
That year my expectations of myself and others were radically altered. During one of the most challenging seasons of parenting, the Lord provided for us in some unique and abundant ways.
In the second week of Advent, as we light the second candle on the wreath, peace is the gift to unpack.
Psalm 85 opens by recalling the peace the Lord has brought His people in the past.
1LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! (Psalm 85:1-4 ESV)
The psalmist begs God for restoration.
5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:5-6 ESV)
The psalmist laments God’s anger and frustration with His people.
7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:7-9 ESV)
The psalmist expresses a longing to see and know God’s favor again.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. (Psalm 85:10-13 ESV)
God’s Faithful and Steadfast Love
Finally, the psalmist paints a picture of the spaciousness of God’s faithful and steadfast love. Righteousness and peace can kiss or be in a relationship because of God’s reconciling work through His son Jesus Christ dying for our sins. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. We will be at peace with God because of what He has done for us.
Advent reminds us to look for the gift of peace from the only source that can provide it, God. He alone can bring the gift of a sustainable reconciliation that ushers in peace. In Advent, we remember the peace that came into the world as a tiny baby who grew up and chose to die for us, and we look forward to the Prince of Peace sitting on His throne and ruling forever.
Lord, you provide a way for me to be at peace with you and those I love through your son, Jesus. Help me to open that gift during this second week of Advent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.