Peace from Despair — Peace of Advent

Scripture Focus: Revelation 15:3-4
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

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

“…And the soul felt its worth.” We close our eyes and let out that long-held breath. He is here. God is here. At last. God is with us. 

The impact of this line from, “O Holy Night,” reveals how often we feel worthless. It resonates with us because we have all felt that deep pang of emptiness. The exhausting weight of all our unanswered questions or unresolved hopes suddenly feels lifted as Jesus enters our world. Israel felt this first at his birth. We experience this ourselves. Our soul feels its worth in salvation. Our soul feels its worth when we remember that he dwells with us and works in our midst every day. 

What is the worth of our souls? Jesus’ birth meant relinquishing the limitless aspect to his divine attributes. It meant putting on flesh and entering a world where pain, persecution, and death were everyday occurrences. It meant things theologians continue to debate. But what it means to us is that we are worth every inconvenience, all suffering, each moment of constrained power. 

The song in Revelation 15 sounds like an amalgamation of various psalms. It is the blending of countless voices repeating to the Savior the wonderful memories of all he has done. It is the recognition that he alone is holy. Perhaps it reveals that other ways of living have been tried. Each age, each culture had its own way of trying to live without him. But all pale in comparison to his greatness and holiness. All other pursuits have left our souls empty and we despair. 

The peace of Advent is the peace from despair. Our peace is anchored to him. When life feels worthless, he brings our soul the restorative feeling of worth. It is the thrill of hope. Our weary world rejoices. 

This Christmas, I hope and pray that your soul has been refreshed as we have walked together to reflect on Advent. If the days have been filled with joy and serenity, I hope these reflections have stirred up praise to our Savior. If your days are still dark and cold, know that if your soul is tethered with our Lord, gold can still be found in moonlight. But if you still struggle with despair, not knowing who this Child is, you can find peace in him. There is no more looking, he is here.

From John: I love that Erin allowed us to spend a little more time reflecting on one of the greatest carols, “O Holy Night.” The version we linked yesterday, by Sara Groves, was chosen for its uniqueness. But since this carol is Jon Polk’s favorite, here we will link to a performance of “O Holy Night” from Saint Andrew’s Church in Hong Kong. Jon serves with this church and sings bass in this ensemble. From all of us at The Park Forum, we wish you the hope, love, joy, and peace of Christmas.

Music: “O Holy Night,” recording, Saint Andrew’s Church, Hong Kong, 2020

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize his works. — Psalm 64.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 29 (Listen – 6:49)
Revelation 15 (Listen – 1:29)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 30 (Listen – 4:56) Revelation 16 (Listen – 3:17)
2 Chronicles 31 (Listen – 4:20) Revelation 17 (Listen – 3:19)

Read more about Supporting our Work
We produce over 100,000 words a year to encourage believers to engage the culture with the love of God.

Read more about I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day — Carols of Advent Peace
Jesus brings a new kind of peace…a peace that allows us to take risks by loving both our neighbor and our enemy…

The Purchase Price of Peace :: Peace 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.

Reflection: The Purchase Price of Peace :: Peace of Advent
By John Tillman

In the warmer climes of the Southern United States, tunes that regale listeners with images of snow, dancing snowmen, and icy winds strike an ironic chord when temperatures call for shorts. But in the Southern hemisphere, where cold days fall on the opposite side of the calendar year, they are openly amusing.

With Christmas falling near summer’s, rather than winter’s, equinox, those in Australia, South America, or Southern Africa have a more accurate weather outlook for what Christ’s actual birth was likely to have been like. Most scholars agree that the shepherds being in the fields indicate that the date of Christ’s birth would be in the Spring or Summer months.

It could have been cold on the night of Christ’s birth. But it would have been the kind of chill that settles in to the desert, arid climates of the world in spring and summer evenings. Although the shepherds were probably not shivering with cold, they definitely shivered in fear when the angel appeared to them even though he spoke to them of peace. (An angel’s first words are almost always some version of “do not fear,” which should tell us something about the awesomeness of their appearance.)

The peace on Earth that the angels proclaimed was not the peacefulness of a sleeping child or the artistic renderings of tranquility that we often see in nativity paintings and creches. That family’s peace would soon be shattered by men of war, sent to kill the child they sought and settling for killing all children his age.

The peace God spoke would come at a cost, and shedding his glory and light to be born in a dim and dirty animal stall, was only the down payment. Further installments of living under a corrupt government and worshiping in a corrupt Temple would come. He would know fear and danger, hunger and pain, poverty and isolation. He would suffer and struggle with sin as every other man. But peace ultimately came through the death he willingly suffered on our behalf. Jesus would not succumb to sin or to death. The final payment would come as an earthquake shook eternity when he stepped out of the tomb. This earthquake did not destroy the world, but instead began to set it right. 

Jesus came out of the tomb carrying the gift we glimpse in the manger—peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” — John 14.27

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 29 (Listen -6:49) 
Revelation 15 (Listen -1:29)

Christmas Day’s Readings
2 Chronicles 30 (Listen -4:56) 
Revelation 16 (Listen -3:17)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we have published 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 The Peace of Christ :: Peace of Advent
Do you have peace in this season? Or are you finding it difficult to rest in the Lord and allowing God’s peace to comfort and sustain you? You are not alone.

Read more about Supporting Our Work
We could not do this without our donors and we are thankful that God has blessed us to be able to do this work.