Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent Reflections - 12/22/2011

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”
Matthew 1:22-24 (NIV)


Peace is somewhat of a priceless commodity these days. Let’s face it. We live in chaotic times and most of the circumstances that surround us can induce anything but peace. From an unstable economy to the continuing threats of terrorism, singing “peace on earth” can seem to be just empty words. Especially during the Christmas Season, peace is something that sometimes eludes us. Images of joyful families’ Christmas dinners, warm fireplaces and happy children around a Christmas tree can seem to more resemble a Norman Rockwell painting rather than our reality.
One of the greatest misconceptions in today’s culture is misinterpreting what peace really means. Most often, we confuse “peace” with the haphazard emotions of “happiness”. Happiness is an emotion that develops from the circumstances around us; peace is an emotion that rises above them. Peace transcends our circumstances of life and determines how we react to them. In fact, one could say that peace is more of a state of mind, rather than a feeling or sentiment. Peace is determined by our responses to the world around us, or lack of reaction to the stresses and worries of life. Peace comes when we relinquish control of that which cannot be controlled.

In the words of Matthew 1:22-24, we read of a situation that may have seemed overwhelming, confusing and fearful for Joseph. He could have awoken in a panic, argued with God and run from the circumstances that were thrust upon him. He could have legally divorced Mary and would have been completely justified by culture and faith. After all, from all earthly perspectives, she had cheated on him and was pregnant with another man’s child. Who would blame him for bailing out?

Our Advent passage for today reveals much of how Joseph reacted to his circumstances. From our point of view, he didn’t argue, question or choose to panic over the news God gave him. He didn’t run, get angry or blame anyone for what was going on. Joseph chose not to react to his circumstances, but instead submitted to that which could not be controlled. He accepted how his life was about to radically change, and as far as we can tell, he had peace. May we react the same way to the sometimes uncontrollable circumstances that we might face.


Lord, we confess that sometimes we react to our circumstances with fear, anger or panic. It is in these times that we lose hold of the peace that You want for each and every one of us. May we take hold of your peace and let it overwhelm us, rather than the troubles of life.