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Hanging of the Greens – A Word on Peace

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This Advent wreath is from my friend’s church McBurg United Methodist Church

Devotional for Hanging of the Greens service 2016

I just want to share a brief word for this second Sunday in Advent and our Hanging of the Greens. All over the world – either last Sunday or this Sunday – churches are participating in this “Hanging of the Greens” service. This is a “traditional” service. What is it that tradition or routine brings us? Often times it brings us “peace”.

When there are times in my life, when things are “unpeaceful” the one thing that brings me peace (don’t laugh) is the very ordinary chore of doing laundry. I know that seems funny, but when I was a teenager my daddy wore uniforms in his work, and every week on Thursday, he would take his dirty uniforms to work and pick up clean ones. There was just something about that mundane, but routine task that gave me peace during those troubling teen years. No matter what was happening – on Thursday – Daddy took his uniforms to work. You could count on it.

These past few weeks have been very difficult for the people of Tennessee. For many, their lives will never be the same again – but even in that – there can be simple things that bring peace and comfort. I pray that the tradition of this service and the comfort of the familiar hymns during this Advent and Christmas season will bring you peace.

Hear these words from Isaiah 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His father David for all eternity. The zeal (The NLT says, “the compassionate commitment”) of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this!”

Has this prophecy been fulfilled yet? Part of it has. The Child was born – Jesus was born just like you and I were born. He came as a human to live a righteous life. And, the Son was given – the perfect Lamb given in sacrifice for the sin of mankind. That has been fulfilled. The second part of that prophecy has not been fulfilled – yet – but we can be assured that it will be. Because the first part has been fulfilled – we know that the second part will be as well because “the compassionate commitment of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this” – and that brings us peace – even in the most uncertain of times!

 

Let us pray:

Father, as our second Sunday in Advent brings the message of peace, I have to wonder – what is peace, really? It’s so much more than the absence of war. It’s more than a shaky truce or a temporary lull. It’s more than a momentary laying down of arms or a brief respite from conflict.

No, true peace wells up within us within times of war, within the ravages of the fiercest actions, and during the times when the whole force of hell assaults our souls. “The Peace of God,” said the apostle Paul “surpasses all understanding.” And Christ, Himself, said, “My peace I give you – not the kind the world gives. So don’t be afraid.”

True peace, Father, comes from You. It’s nothing we can conjure up, nothing we can “talk ourselves into” nothing we can “will” to be – it comes, (yes) comes from Thee.

So, how can we explain the conflict of the shaking hands and the calm heart? How can we understand the fear that ravages our minds while a peace pervades our soul? It doesn’t make sense Lord, but we’ve been there.

We’ve felt our hearts cry “Peace! Peace! The Peace of the Most High Sovereign God surrounds you and controls your being!” and all the while our minds are trying to grasp the reality of the moment – the pain that comes with uncertainty and fear, when our stomach turns and our limbs weaken…

And finally, we fall to our knees, grasping the promise that You made to never leave nor forsake us – and peace comes upon us, and we feel Your love.

It doesn’t always “change the moment”; there may still be “bullets” flying all around, whether actual, or figurative (sometimes the “figurative” ones hurt the worst!) But it changes us! And that is, what Peace is.

Thank You Father – we love You and Praise You in the Name of the Prince of Peace – Amen.

 

 

And now let us receive our tithes and offerings.

Prayer: Gracious and Eternal God – bless the gift and the giver – and give them peace. Amen.

 

 

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