Monday, April 18, 2011

"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named" Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God; Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7, NRSV)


For many Christians, preparations for Christmas are more hectic than peaceful. Parties to host or attend; gifts to purchase and get to their recipients; favorite foods to prepare; houses to clean; worship services, concerts and recitals to attend; poor to care for and serve. And there are other realities which contradict what seems to be the way of peace -- crime in some neighborhoods, domestic violence, conflict in schools or in work places. The poor and the homeless whose presence, visibly or in the back of our minds, pricks our consciousness, reminding us of the violence poverty does to a body and to a heart. Along with the deployment of more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, we are reminded that in too many places, the world continues to function completely antithetically to the ways of peace.


In many aspects, the days during which Christ was born were similar to our own times. The need for peace was born out of the lack of it, for the majority of God's people. In Jesus, God responded to the cries of the marginalized, the oppressed, the despairing, for whom peace was not easily attained. But it was into the very midst of conflict, poverty, hunger, disease, injustice and hopelessness that God in Christ Jesus appeared as a visible symbol of hope and life. The birth of Jesus was proof that God is a God of peace and of justice. Endless peace is the result of knowing the healing, forgiving, restorative, miraculous love of God. Jesus showed us what it looked like, sounded like, felt like as he fed the hungry, gave hope to the poor, healed the sick, raised the dead and called for justice for the marginalized and excluded.


It is often difficult to believe that these movements of God are still occurring and live within and among us. Yet, they are. The way of peace is an inside-out job. We are God's vessels for the change we wish to see. So I invite us to live into this season of new life and new beginnings, releasing from within us the peace that comes from knowing the love and presence of our God resident in each one of us.


Human nature is amazingly predictable. Love multiplies, hope multiplies, faith in God multiplies. The more we give, the more we receive. It truly IS more of a blessing to give. God's immeasurable gift of love to humanity cannot be repaid, but we CAN respond in kind. We can respond by being vessels of God's peace in the midst of the challenges of real life. We can exemplify and speak peace in our congregations, our families, our circuits, in our schools and our places of work and community. Not just some of us, but each of us, all of us. Looking to the author and finisher of our faith, we are the agents of God's change, transformation, movement and spirit of peace today.


With these things in mind, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Through him we expect a new spirit of peace in Wisconsin Conference. New peace that gives birth to new life in ministry and mission in Wisconsin and throughout the world! "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, And on earth peace among those whom he favors.' (Luke 2:10-14)

--In the Spirit and Peace of Christ, Bishop Linda Lee

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

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