December 14

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent – the Sunday we usually call “Christmas Sunday” because it is the last Sunday before Christmas.  This week we light the Candle of Love, signifying the great love given to us through Jesus.  In the midst of Christ’s love, we will look at the last of the four names of the Messiah – Prince of Peace.  It seems odd to be talking about peace, because we focused on peace the second Sunday of Advent.  But, can love and peace coexist?  Absolutely!!!

What is Peace?  Is it the absence of war, or could it be something different?  In the book of Matthew, Jesus describes the perfect juxtaposition of peace and love when he says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.  I was a stranger and you invited me in.  I needed clothes and you clothed me.  I was sick and you looked after me.  I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  Peace is when we look into the eyes of those we meet and actually see them. It is only then that we can show Christ’s love.  How will we open our hearts today?

Hear these words from author Jan Richardson as you ponder upon these strange bedfellows of peace and love.

A Blessing Called Sanctuary

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
that you were asked
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
taking your place
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found—
to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold,
and you are welcome
and more than welcome

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace