Advent, Part 2: Peace
By Gavin Bennett, Joy Schlichter, & Bethany Allen
Candle Lighting & Communion (2 minutes)
In the Advent season, lighting a candle is used to symbolize Jesus being the Light of the World who comes into our darkness. So grab any candle from somewhere in your house, dim the lights, light the candle, and take communion as one person reads the following prayer out loud:
God of Hope,
Your Son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us.
He is a sign of our hope,
Of your light coming into our darkness.
Help us to walk in that hope during the weeks of Advent.
May we celebrate the first coming of Jesus,
even as we await his return.
We pray all this in the name of Jesus, our Savior.
Read This Overview (5 min)
What if the problem isn’t that peace is so far off? What if the problem is that we don’t actually understand peace as the Bible means it? In the Bible, peace is more than just the absence of conflict. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, is when God steps into creation and sets the world right. Not just by stopping evil, but by restoring all that it’s taken. The peace that God brings is not about the absence of something; it’s about the presence of Someone.
The kind of peace God brings is not passive, it is God actively breaking into what’s wrong and making it right. So, if the shalom of God is the power of God, then our path of formation and transformation as disciples of Jesus is to not remain peacekeepers, but to become peacemakers. We get to prepare the way for his return by actively making peace around us.
Scripture Reading (5 min)
Each week of Advent, we want to read aloud a portion of the birth story of Jesus that helps us look deeper at each of the four themes of Advent (hope, peace, love, and joy).
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Reflection Questions (30 min)
Spend some time working through the following questions:
- Through Jesus’ incarnation and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, we have access to God’s peace in the midst of our fear. Where have you encountered this peace? Where do you need it?
- Where are you still experiencing fear and where do you need to experience greater peace that’s on offer through God’s presence?
- Where are you feeling the absence of something and needing the presence of someone?
- Beyond your story, where have you seen peace come to earth this year?
Practice For the Week Ahead (5 minutes)
Jesus came for everyone — adults and children alike — so this year our Advent practices will be inclusive of children! That said, there will be two sections in each Advent practice: one for families with children to work through and one for individuals without children to work through. The practices are essentially the same, just with more interactive elements in the children’s one. So whether you live by yourself in an apartment or with a house full of kiddos, there’s something this season for everyone.
Advent Practice for Families
If you haven’t discussed Advent with your child before, start with a moment to define the practice. (Keep in mind that the following is written at the Kindergarten level — feel free to change as you see fit for your child.)
Advent is a special time before Christmas where we remember the birth of Jesus. A long time ago, God promised he would send a Rescuer to fix everything in the world that was broken and make things whole again. God’s people waited a very long time for that Rescuer. Finally, after waiting for what felt like forever, the great rescuer came! He came in a way people wouldn’t expect: as a baby. Jesus is that Great Rescuer. During Advent, we remember how God’s people waited for Jesus for a long time. We light four candles to help us remember four very important things that Jesus brings us: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
Next, grab a candle (any kind will do!). Invite your child to sit with you and to quiet their mind and their body. Once you’re ready you can read and do the following:
On the second week of Advent, we remember peace. [Light the candle or help your child light the candle] Peace is when everything is how it’s supposed to be. Peace may give you a calm feeling in your heart and your body. Sometimes you may even feel a peace inside you when things around you feel scary or sad or really busy. When Jesus came as a baby, he was called the Prince of Peace! Jesus came to bring peace to our hearts and gave us the Holy Spirit to help us bring His peace to the world around us.
Ask your child to share about a time they experienced peace. It may be a memory of a time they felt peace, or a particular place or situation that was full of peace. Take time to listen and engage with their ideas. Share a time where you experienced peace from God. Then, brainstorm as a family ways you can engage with the theme of peace this week. You might choose to create peace in your home by planning a cozy family movie night. Or perhaps spend a morning in nature together, taking in the peaceful rhythms of creation. Other families may choose to engage with our city as peacemakers, by donating to or serving with local organizations like Because People Matter or Portland Rescue Mission.
Whenever we see our hope list, we can pray: “Thank you God! Thank you that I can hope in you!”
To close, pray a blessing over your child:
May you experience the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. Would God fill you with His Spirit of Peace, so that as you grow, you bring peace to the world around you.
Advent Practice for Individuals
Grab a candle (any kind will do!). Quiet your mind and body. Once you’re ready you can light the candle, remembering that on the second week of Advent, we remember peace. Peace is not about the absence of conflict, but about the presence of God. Peace is when God steps into creation and sets the world right.
As you sit there, ask yourself where you have experienced God’s peace — it could be in the form of a deep settledness in the character of God even though the world around you felt like chaos, or a literal seeing of God’s restoration of something or someone. Next, think about how you can engage with the theme of peace this week. Whether creating peace in your home by planning a cozy family movie night, spending a morning in nature to take in the peaceful rhythms of creation, engaging with our city as peacemakers by donating to or serving with local organizations like Because People Matter or Portland Rescue Mission, or something totally different. Whatever it is, engage this week in peace.
Before ending your time, take some time to reflect on the truth that the peace of God transcends all understanding, circumstance, or logic. Ask for God to fill you with His Spirit of Peace, so that you become someone who brings peace to the world around you.