READ : John 14:25-31
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (v. 27)
We light the fourth candle on the Advent wreath today for the gift of peace. I spent the year 2009 living in the Netherlands and used to walk my dog up on a dike that ran alongside a canal close to where we lived. One side of the dike was residential, but the other side was farmland. On the farmland, about half a mile from my house, there was an old Nazi bunker that the farmer used as a barn. The bunker was a silent testimony to the darkest time in Dutch history, but it was as if the farmer had literally turned that sword into a plowshare.
That Nazi bunker illustrates the tensions we live under. On the one hand, the reality of our world is that there is no peace. On the other hand, the promise of Jesus is peace. We live in the tension between the first and second Advents of Jesus. We know the realities of sin, war, pain, and death. Even these beautiful promises of Jesus in John 14 about peace and the coming of the Holy Spirit were said on the night before his crucifixion.
Four Advent candles are now lit. The Advent wreath is a circle, which represents eternity, and is surrounded with evergreens, which also represent eternal life. But look at the four candles. They form the shape of a cross; silently testifying that peace on earth comes at a great price.
Make us instruments of your peace.