I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers." For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, "Peace be within you." For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
The first Sunday in Advent is a day on which we celebrate Peace. This is a beautiful way to kick off a holiday season that is, all too often, for far too many, anything but peaceful.
I saw a post on Facebook a few weeks ago that made me very sad. A woman was posting about all of the obligations in her family to purchase gifts for everyone - immediate family, extended family, and beyond. She found herself so stressed by this prospect - emotionally, mentally, and financially, that she found herself wishing she could just skip Christmas altogether this year. It reminded me that what should be a time of year that is filled with peace, hope, joy, and love often gets overshadowed by our consumeristic society. Too often people get overwhelmed with shopping, commitments, obligation, familial tension, all of those darker things that arise in what should be a season of light.
This Sunday gives us a chance to step away from the pressures the outside world puts on us for this season. We have a chance to focus on the candle of peace - to remember that this time of year is not about presents or decorations or cards or food or lights, but about the coming of Jesus Christ. I know it's hard to not meet what feels like an obligation - whether it comes from family, friends, or your boss - but I invite you to remember that your only true obligation this season is to Christ.
Christ invites us to prepare for his birth by spending a few moments in peace. Remember that Christ will bring us peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you will go into this new season with the peace of Christ reigning in your hearts.
God of Peace, help to still our hearts, our minds, and our souls that we might feel your peace. Help us to remember that our obligation is not to the expectations of this world, but only to love Christ with all our hearts, minds, and souls. May we help spread peace this season. Amen.