Scripture Focus: Revelation 11:5-6
 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

Reflection: Peace from Strife — Peace of Advent
By Erin Newton

The Old Testament is one crisis after another. Strife, misery, injustice, bondage, warfare, exile. We watch as the prophets plead with the people to turn their hearts to truth. Jerusalem is destroyed. The prophets weep for the destruction of their beloved home. As the Old Testament closes, there are promises that a greater Redeemer is coming.

Historically, the New Testament opens during the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. After years of warfare, the Roman Empire entered a period of relative political peace. Israel had endured the pains from the previous wars including the Exile. They were not free from Roman rule, and they were still bound by Roman laws.

The Jews had been longing for their Redeemer, expectantly waiting for the one who would save them. It’s easy to see that they wanted a mighty warrior. They wanted someone like the two witnesses in Revelation 11: breathing fire, commanding the rains, and bringing plagues to their enemies.

The tension that builds from the Old Testament to the Advent of Jesus feels like jumping off a cliff overlooking pristine water. As momentum builds there is the final deep breath before the plunge. There is the expectation of something great, something grand, something epic! The Redeemer will come with swords and fire and plagues!

But you turn the page and find a baby. Small and defenseless. His image is the unexpected figure of a redeemer. The conquering king is a nursing infant born to insignificant parents. The God who fights our battles came in the form of a helpless child.

When you are constantly on edge from conflict, it is easy to expect the answer to your crisis will come in the form of a fight. The Jews naturally expected a heroic giant-killing descendant of David to rescue them. We, too, want a warrior instead of a boy. We would rather have a charming orator than a cooing babe. We want a cunning general instead of a feeble child.

Peace that comes with the birth of Christ is peace from strife.  Peace which lets go of the desire to conquer those we hate. Peace which does not hope to see the downfall of our enemies. 
 Peace which does not try to wage war on anyone different.

If we are to become like Christ we must be as he was. We must embrace the form of a meek and mild baby and be at peace from strife.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord. — Psalm 31.24

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 24 (Listen – 5:07)
Revelation 11 (Listen – 3:24)

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