Day 1: First Sunday of Advent
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
There was a telling headline in a newspaper not that long ago: “Are We More Divided Than Ever? Yes!” The number of divisions and levels of distrust feel stronger than ever in the public square, and we’re feeling it in our lives. A recent study from a psychological journal traced a marked increase over the last thirty years in individual’s anxiety levels corresponding to indicators such as trouble sleeping, inability to remember, poor appetite, and more. Divided on the outside and anxious on the inside…we need peace.
The prophet Isaiah spoke a word from God at a time that is more like our own than we might realize. In his day, the 8th century B.C., turmoil at the national and international level had reached a fever pitch, eventually leading to the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland. People felt conflicted and confused, and people were even described as “the people walking in darkness” (Isaiah 9:2). In the midst of this reality, God inspired Isaiah to bring a word about peace that was on its way from God Himself. There was a miracle child coming, and in the midst of the might and wonder coming with that child, He would ultimately be called “Prince of Peace” (9:6). For the fear-filled people lost in the dark clouds of divisions and distrust, Isaiah’s word pierced through the dark clouds like a shaft of heavenly light.
In the gospel of Matthew we are told that Jesus’ birth fufillled the promise of God given through Isaiah (Matthew 1:22). In describing Jesus in one of his letters, the Apostle Paul wrote: “he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus brings both inner peace and relational peace, both peace with God and peace amongst humanity. This is very good news for those of us living in a world tortured by anxiety, conflict, and chaos.
Near the end of His earthly ministry, after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus said to His disciples: “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). This Advent, let us join Isaiah as one of the people of Advent, turning toward God for the gift that only He can give in Jesus, who is our peace.
- Why do you think Prince of Peace is one of the key titles given to Jesus?
- As you consider this season in front of you, in what ways do you need to experience more of the peace Jesus brings?
A Prayer for the first Sunday of Advent (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
God of justice and peace,
from the heavens you rain down mercy and kindness,
that all on earth may stand in awe and wonder
before your marvelous deeds.
Raise our heads in expectation,
that we may yearn for the coming day of the Lord
and stand without blame before your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Use these “Family Talk” sections each week with younger children
Have you ever been playing outside, maybe riding your bike or swimming at the beach, when suddenly the sunshine disappears? Clouds gather and grow darker. In the distance you hear a rumble of thunder or see a flash of light. Oh no! Run for cover!
You find shelter, but you’re just waiting for the sun to return. And, when the sun finally comes back out, everything feels okay again.
That feeling is called peace. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born on earth, God’s people were in a “stormy” time. They had stopped living to please God. They were forced from their homes and taken to a faraway land where life was hard. They were worried and wondered if God had forgotten them.
God had not forgotten His people. He gave special messages to a man named Isaiah, who spread God’s messages to the people. Many of these messages were words of comfort and peace, including the message about a special baby. God was sending a baby who would grow up to be our Rescuer. This was Jesus—the one who would make peace between God and people. In fact, one of Jesus’ special names is “the Prince of Peace”.
This week, when you light the first Advent candle, think about how the sun breaks through the dark clouds and remember the feeling of peace. As a family, talk about the peace that we have because of Jesus.