The Takeaway - Advent Week Two
Do you remember what the word Advent means? Yes, you’re right. It comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means Coming. During Advent we prepare for Christmas, Jesus’ birth.
I’d like to tell you about two special days in the season of Advent: December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day, and December 13th, St. Lucia’s Day. Both days focus on children.
St. Nicholas was a bishop in Turkey in the 3rd and 4th centuries. He was known for giving gifts secretly—especially to children. Legend tells us that one night he snuck into the home of a family with three girls and dropped gold coins into the socks hanging up at the ends of their beds. Sound familiar? The spirit of St. Nicholas lives on in Santa Claus today.
St. Lucia was a saint in Italy in the 4th century. She helped Christians in danger by bringing them food and drink at night while they were hiding. There were no headlamps back then, so she wore candles in a wreath on
her head to light the way. In Sweden on St. Lucia’s Day, the youngest girl in the family gets to be Lucia—bringing her family breakfast with a wreath of candles on her head. The name Lucia (or Lucy) comes from the Latin word lux, meaning light.
Children have been part of Advent from the very beginning—since the third and fourth centuries!
Part 2: The Present
If you haven’t already, I invite you to light two candles—the candles of hope and peace!
The theme of the second week of Advent—is peace. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word peace means quiet, calm, & freedom from war. Sound a bit boring? Let’s dig a little deeper.
In Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament), the word for peace is shalom. To bring shalom is to make complete, to make whole, or restore. You can bring shalom to a lego set when you completely assemble it. You can also bring shalom to a relationship by apologizing for your wrongs and asking for forgiveness.
And in Greek (the language of the New Testament), the word for peace is eirene, meaning harmony, order; health, wholeness.
Throughout the Bible, peace comes from God, through Jesus. And peace is found in God’s kingdom—where wrongs are made right, broken things are mended, sadness turns to joy, sickness to health.
Jesus’ coming brings peace. “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6). Do you remember what the angels tell the shepherds that first Christmas? “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!” (Luke 2.14).
Jesus talks a lot about peace.
· “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9)
· “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14.27).
The Apostle Paul may say it best: “Jesus is our peace” (Ephesians 2.14).
Let’s listen to what peace looks like through part of the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Remember—the story is about 4 siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, & Lucy) who discover a magical wardrobe in the house they are living in—which transports them to another world, Narnia. In today’s passage the children are again speaking with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about the mysterious Aslan. Listen for what peace sounds like:
“ ‘Oh, yes! Tell us about Aslan!” said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling—like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.
‘Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus.’
‘She won’t turn him into stone too?’ said Edmund.
‘Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!’ answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. ‘Turn him into stone! If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
You’ll understand when you see him.’ “
The old rhyme about Aslan describes the peace he brings, how he restores things, how he makes things whole: wrong will be right, sorrow and winter will be no more.
Part 3: Looking Ahead
This brings us to the last part of our chat: what does peace look like in you and me? How can peace live inside us—in our bodies, hearts, and minds? And how can we share that peace with the world?
Let’s start with our bodies: we can be peacemakers through our actions—especially through apologies. Have you needed to apologize for anything lately? This week in our family, we’ve apologized for unkind words, for hitting a sibling, for not completing chores. Apologies are a way you can bring shalom—restore a relationship with a person: by saying what you are sorry for, asking what you can do to make it better, and making plans for what you will do differently next time.
Next let’s look at our hearts: we can feel peace in our hearts. Peace feels like calm, rightness, wholeness, satisfaction, completeness. Let’s practice this feeling together: sit in your chair and rest your feet on the ground, maybe even lie down on the floor, and close your eyes. As you breathe in through your nose, breathe in the peace of God. And now as you exhale through your mouth, let go of everything else. Breathe in the peace of God, and breathe out everything else. Do you feel your heart beating slower? This calm that you have created by breathing—this is peace, coming from God’s presence with us. You can access this peace anytime you feel big feelings—just by breathing.
Last but not least, let’s focus on our minds by putting on our thinking caps. What does peace look like to you—what picture would you draw of it in your mind? Dove? Olive branch? People holding hands? Kids sharing a toy? Close your eyes and imagine what peace looks like—can you see it? (If imagining is hard for you, open your eyes and look at your advent candles burning.) Repeat to yourself (or out loud): “Jesus is my peace.” Notice the details of your picture of peace—the colors, the action, the feeling.
Now it’s your turn to talk as a family.
· What can you do to act on peace?
· What does peace feel like for you? What helps you connect with this feeling?
· What thoughts lead you to peace? What helps you to focus on peace?
Before you blow out the candles of hope and peace, receive the oldest blessing in the Bible—a blessing of God’s peace:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6.24-26)
Go in peace!