Welcome back! This is Journey – Advent Week 4 (Published on Sunday 22nd December) If you would like to find out more about the vision behind ‘Journey’, check out our intro video [here]. If you missed week 1 or 2 don’t worry, you can catch up [here – 1] and [here – 2] and [here -3] or, just join in from right now.
If you joined us last week, maybe take a moment as you start to give people an opportunity to share what they’ve been thinking about this week as you have reflected on your wondering questions.
Our “backdrop” passage for this set of Advent reflections is found in Isaiah Chapter 9 – lets give it a read once more to remind ourselves of these fantastic words – have someone in your family read this out
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne establishing and upholding it with justice and righeousness
from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9: 6-7
In week 1 we had a think about Jesus as our Wonderful Counsellor; in week 2 we considered Mighty God; and in week 3 we looked at Everlasting Father and this week we’re going to spend some time reflecting on our final “name” of Jesus in this passage : Prince of Peace!
Ask someone to pray – their own prayer, or just read these words, “Oh God, as we finish these devotions today would your peace be made real to us through the coming of our Saviour – in our hearts, in our lives, in our home and in our world” Amen
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4: 4-9 (NIV)
I once heard a fantastic story about an artist who was commissioned by a great King to paint a picture of peace. I think it’s more of an urban myth than a true story but, fact or fiction, it is a great story and it goes something like this :
A great painter was once asked by his King to paint a picture of peace for him. It was a great honour and he wanted to please the king so he thought long and hard before mixing his paint on his palette and painting the most beautiful sunset you could imagine. However, when he unveiled his work before the king, the king frowned. ‘This is truly a beautiful scene but it doesn’t convey peace to me.’ The artist was troubled, but he left the palace, took out a new canvas and began to paint again. Three more paintings were brought before the king; paintings of beautiful, still mountains, meadows bursting with colour and twinkling stars on the blackest of nights. But all were rejected by the king. Desperate to get it right, the artist tried one final time. This time his painting was unlike anything he had painted before. His palette was full of blacks and purples and blues as he painted a fierce storm, with howling wind and battering rain beating hard against a cliff. And in the centre of the storm, he painted a small bird, sheltered and sleeping peacefully in a cleft of the rock.
The artist had realised what the king had known all along : that often peace is not fully experienced on a calm, beautiful day, rather it can be fully appreciated when you realise you are held and known by a loving father God in the midst of the chaos and storms of life.
In our passage today, Paul urges the Philipians not to be anxious about anything! Easier said than done, you might be thinking, but Paul was not throwing this comment away glibly from his place of comfort, privilege and ‘happiness’. He himself had experienced his fair share of trouble – having been persecuted and in prison. Yet He had learned that, even when life feels tumultuous, if we bring it to the Prince of Peace, He will guard our hearts and minds.
Christmas can sometimes be anything but peaceful. Before you head into the craziness, take a few minutes as a family to wait on God, bring your thoughts to God, spend time in His presence and know His peace.
Listen to “His Name is Wonderful” from the new Chris Tomlin Christmas Album.
Take time to think over these wondering questions – by time, we means days . . . give each person in the family space to think their own thoughts, write, draw or say things that come to mind in their own time and at their own pace.
We were all involved in coming up with these in our family, and are going to stick them on our fridge as a reminder through the week – you might, of course, come up with some great wondering questions of your own.
- Re-read the Philippians passage, what stands out to you?
- What does peace feel like? Where do you feel it in your body?
- Are there any places you feel particularly peaceful when you are there?
- Jesus gives us a “peace that the world cannot give” – what do you think makes this peace different?
Re-connect and Reflect. Pick a time to come back together – maybe after Christmas – over a meal or at a time that works when everyone is around. Be prepared to share a little about what you have been wondering about.