First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (2nd Sunday in Advent, December 4, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Peace: Is It Even Possible?”
Isaiah 11:1-9; John 14:25-27
Before we even know it, the Second Sunday of Advent is already here! During Advent, the Church of Jesus Christ has always emphasized four traditional themes, namely: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. We enter the Season of Advent, the season of preparing our lives to celebrate the birth of Christ, with visiting our understanding of hope. In Advent, we are invited anew to place our trust and hope in the ONE who has never failed us, Jesus Christ. No politician, no philosophy, no ideology, nothing should be the center of our hope, but the Lord Himself. So when things get messy, when it seems that our lives is upside down, Luke encourages us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Today we continue our Advent journey and on this Second Sunday in Advent, we focus our attention on PEACE. Is it even possible to attain peace? On this Second Sunday of Advent, we get to remember that Christ is our peace. So as we reflect on this topic this morning, I would like to share a couple observations:
First: Peace Originates in a Person
Peace originates in a person whose name is Jesus Christ. 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
The Bible has so much to say about peace and the more we dig deeper into Scriptures, the more we get to know that peace originates in a person. The Old Testament speaks about “Shalom”, that sense of wholeness, completeness, and harmony. We gain this sense of wholeness when we fully trust God. In Isaiah 26:3-4, the Prophet reminds us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal,” says the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 26:3-4.
The New Testament reinforced the same meaning so as we encounter the concept of “Eirene” or peace, we find out that “Eirene” means “to join or bind together that which has been separated.” In other words, when we are joined to God in faith, peace dwells in our hearts. That’s why I am saying that peace originates in a person. In John 14:27, Jesus boldly said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
Second: God’s Peace always Transcends our Circumstances
God’s peace always transcends our circumstances. Writing from his prison cell, the apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi saying, “And the peace of God, which transcends and surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7.
I love the story behind our Closing Hymn for this morning. The hymn was written by Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) who was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a very faithful Christian and a friend of the famous preacher Dwight L. Moody. At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had. In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much-needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy.
Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last-minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family’s ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived. With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving wife in England. As he sailed across the area where their ship went down and they drowned, he penned those now famous words, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” A song of peace, trust, and thanksgiving was born from the womb of grief and sorrow.
God’s peace always transcends our circumstances. It can be encountered in the most unlikely places. In the midst of the tragedies of life, we can still sing, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It’s well with my soul.” Who would’ve thought that the shoot that came out of the stump of Jesse would be the source of peace?
Friends, is peace even possible? Yes, it’s. It originates in a person, and it transcends our circumstances. Psalms 29:11 reminds us, “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” A trip to Hawaii may bring you some momentary peace. A Yoga class may bring you some relaxation. But permanent, lasting, perfect, and transcendent peace is only found in Christ. He is our peace,” says Paul in Ephesians 2:14. May “The God of peace be with you all. Amen” Romans 15:33.
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