In this season of Advent, we wait “in between.” Christmas is not yet here. We await Christ’s return. Yet all the while, Christ is within us. In all these realities, we long for a more complete awareness and experience of his presence. Plus, we do not always act as faithfully as we wish. In this waiting, there is room for newness and growth.
This week our Advent focus is peace. Isaiah 40 offers comfort for the exile, tender speech to welcome a new rising. The prophet grounds his message of peace in creation—desert, mountains, plains, flowers, grass, sheep.
Hundreds of years later, John the baptizer also prepares the way of the Lord. He proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, which is a breakdown in peace. John’s call to the crowds is to practice peace.
Personally, he practices peace by eating simple food, wearing simple clothing, and speaking truth with integrity. John’s focus is preparation by right practice.
When he speaks of “the one coming” baptizing with the Holy Spirit, perhaps that is his language of grace. After all, it is not human actions for peace (as life-giving as they are), but the Spirit of Christ’s love which is the source of true peace.
As Jesus’ death demonstrates, the peace of Christ does not eliminate pain and conflict. Peace gives us courage to live and die with trouble because together we share fellowship with Jesus Christ. May you sense that courage today.