Candle of Peace
By DANNY MINTON
Churches vary on the lighting of the second candle of Advent, with some lighting the candle of peace and others the candle of love. I wasn’t sure which to do since my experience with the tradition of Advent is limited, so I decided to take the “casting lots” method of determining whether to write about peace or love. I took the highly scientific approach of opening a drawer and pulling out three shirt stays, and I shook them up and threw them on the counter, and they came up peace. To make sure, I did it twice more, with all three telling me to write about peace this week and love next week.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could similarly solve its problems? I could have started a debate and had people argue about the meaning of the second candle, peace or love. However, in the middle of the argument, those who believe it represents faith could toss in their two cents worth of opinion. We could debate and argue with no one willing to give in to another’s view. Some may even be so intent on being right that they would get angry about the entire situation. So to keep the peace, I chose my unorthodox method of decision. However, when you stop and think about the two, we’ll find they go hand in hand with one another.
The birth of Jesus took place in a small quiet town and a serene setting where the only sounds were probably the night breeze and muffled sounds of sheep nearby. I see it as one of those peaceful nights with shepherds settling their flocks down for the evening while Joseph tried to comfort Mary as she gave birth to the savior of the world.
The shepherd’s quiet, still night is interrupted by the appearance of an angel telling them of the birth of the Christ child. The announcement intensifies when a Heavenly Host joins the angel praising the Lord, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14 (NIV2011) Thus, the New Testament uses the word peace for the first time about Jesus and his coming into the world.
There are several ways we define peace in the lives of people. The tranquility of a world that gets along without fighting and void of war is one of the first ways we think about peace. Another way is the peace people have with one another when they can agree on their differences. These two ideas find their truest meaning in the discussion of the “Candle of Love.”
Besides the outward peace that Jesus brings, there exists an inner peace that he gives to those that follow Him. People often find themselves struggling with inner feelings that they “can’t quite put their finger on,” as we might say. The worries and cares of a normal life often leave people feeling empty, an emptiness that can’t always be explained in words. The emptiness often leads to depression, anxiety, and feelings that give a sense of loss. We search for answers but find ourselves struggling to discover a solution.
With Jesus in our lives, we have the most incredible resource to bring peace to these troubled times. The deeper our relationship develops with Jesus, the easier it becomes to find peace in the troubled times of our lives. Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV2011) Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV2011)
When our hearts are heavy, or we find ourselves searching for something but don’t know what, we can always turn to Jesus to fill that empty feeling. When we find ourselves capable of handing our troubles over to God, we give ourselves freedom. A woman who wiped the feet of Jesus with her tears, a Centurian whose son lay on his deathbed, a little man watching Jesus from a tree, a woman who touched His robe in a crowd, a leper who turned back to Jesus after being healed, and a thief on a cross, present only a few examples of those who found peace in Jesus.
Allowing Jesus to walk with us in our most troublesome times can give us peace, the peace we cannot find when alone. Jesus calls us to the peace he has to offer each of us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV2011)
Ed, a friend of mine, lost his wife recently after a long thirteen-year journey with Alzheimer’s. One of the things that kept him going through the ordeal was his trust and love in Jesus. You could see that peace in his actions and words as the disease worsened, and he never gave up on the comfort that Jesus could give him. He found peace as he cared for Evy, the love of his life, and he found peace in knowing she continues to exist in the love of her savior.
I leave you with this thought from Paul. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV2011)
Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ