The children will light the Advent candle of Peace at the wreath on this Second Sunday of Advent. The service will focus on inner and outer peace, and particularly on “the things that make for peace.” We will read the beautiful Benedictus of Zechariah that ends, “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” We will hear how Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, walked that way of peace that Jesus then continued and passed on to us. (Luke 1:57-60, 67-79; Mark 1:1-8) We will also hear the tender comfort of Isaiah 40.
The message is that peace is coming. Followers of Christ are peacemakers in this world because Christ comes as a peacemaker in our hearts and homes and church and leads us out from there.
Two weeks ago the sermon talked about the dreams for our congregation that are emerging from the questionnaire responses this fall. One powerful dream is that we be a congregation where we can talk about anything, including the hard and controversial topics of our day, and that we learn to do so in a way that does not divide us, but that makes us a closer, stronger, more loving community.
Compassion and understanding grow as we listen respectfully to one another. We find the deep oneness and peace that no surface differences can overcome.
We find the light that shines in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome, and it shows the path of Christ ahead.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in his last Christmas sermon, “We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” In the words of our Advent program led by Mark and Lisa Kutolowski, we need to transform our fear into trust, and we do that not by avoiding difficult issues but by learning how to work through them together in loving, healthy, constructive ways.
Advent holds out hope in this beautiful dream. We will sing three traditional Advent carols that give expression to it: “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People,” “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,” and “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night.” (If you are not familiar with these, please listen to two of the tunes below.) The choir will sing the peace verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” as the Introit, and a beloved, traditional Jewish hymn, “Adon Olam,” as the Anthem. We will all sing the ancient Advent tune, Conditor Alme–the oldest in our hymnals–with contemporary words as our Benediction.
Here are YouTube versions of two of the hymns for this Sunday: