Peace from Strife — Peace of Advent

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)

Read more about Supporting our Work
We need and pray for donors of all amounts, and for those who can donate every month as well as those who donate once a year or at other intervals.

Read more about Neither Aggression nor Assimilation
By peaceful loving actions, we can call others to join us as people who are distinct on the face of the earth.

Prayers of Joy :: Joy of Advent

*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year, we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share this post with others to help them subscribe.

Scripture Focus: Revelation 11.15
“The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Reflection: Prayers of Joy :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

As we conclude the third week of Advent and move to the fourth and final Sunday of this season of anticipation, we prepare our hearts with the joyful prayers of Revelation which follow the seventh trumpet. The joy we experience now through the Holy Spirit has its culmination here. The joy of Advent is true joy and has been held in hearts across the centuries.

Prayers of Joy
We thank you, Lord, for the true joy, ours in Advent.

Advent’s joy exists despite and within all circumstances. 
It is joy in plenty and pleasure, but also in pain and want. 

It is the joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth
 Who suffered years of hopelessness before a spark of joy came to them
It is the joy in Zechariah’s prophecy
 Seeing an end to earthly suffering
It is the joy Mary sang of
 The lowly lifted and the proud humiliated
It is the joy the shepherds could see
 A child born to Mary and to them and to us
 A child born to fulfill God’s promise to Eve.  

This is the great joy of the good news shepherds were sent to seek.
It is the joy John the Baptist knew
 His ministry faded and suffered, yet Christ’s grew
It is the joy of Jesus
 Healing and feeding masses who did not understand
 Masses who followed with wrong motives
It is the joy of Christ on the cross
 Despising the shame
 Eyes set on the joy before him.
It is the joy of the resurrection
 First witnessed by Mary Magdalene
 The first to tell the gospel to others

This joyful good news, this impossible gospel, passed on to us today is the only source of true and lasting joy that will last into eternity.

We join the prayer of heavenly elders, who fall in worship, saying:

“The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Come, Lord Jesus! 
Enter our hearts now.
Enter our world through our hands and speech.
And finally, at the day of our Father’s choosing, enter our skies
And rest your feet on Earth, with your restoring justice.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.”

Come reign in us, Lord, so that you can reign through us.


*Handel’s Messiah, Full Symphony Performance (Recording of Live Broadcast), (2:32) Sydney Philharmonic Symphony and Choirs

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Now his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, “Look, your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.” He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.” — Mark 3.31-35

– 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)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 25 (Listen -5:12) Revelation 12 (Listen -2:58)
2 Chronicles 26 (Listen -4:00) Revelation 13 (Listen -3:20)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more about Joy Despite Everything :: Joy of Advent
Martha shows us how to wait…when your faith is crushed into pieces, how to hold out your shattered faith to Jesus.

Read more about The Value of Words
The value of words for Christians is vastly different than others, for our Savior is known as The Word made flesh.