Advent: A Season of Peace
Former Anglican archbishop Rowan Williams wrote about a great French monastery in the early Middle Ages whose neighbors seemed always to be at war with one another. Frustrated by their perpetual battles, the monks tried an experiment. They declared that all hostilities would be restricted to three days a week (Monday-Wednesday), and in all the other times there would be “the truce of God.”
Williams admits that the truce never really worked for long, but the idea is an important reminder. Those who regularly meet each other at the table of Christ must not be in a constant state of war. War between Christians, who share in the body of Christ, is scandalous and senseless.
As always I’m looking forward to Advent, but this year I wonder if a little Baptist Church might attempt to call for a truce in this hostile world we inhabit. Could we put a hold on the hostility and fragmentation for one holy month?
Peace is central to the Christian story and vision. Isaiah links peace with salvation: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).
Paul takes that image and runs with it, advancing what he calls “the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) all over his known world. And he calls us to join him saying (Rom 10:14-17). On many occasions Paul calls God, “the God of peace.”
So, what if we called for a “truce of God,” a holy season during Advent, in which we try and recover the peace that is at the heart of the gospel? Advent begins when we recognize how desperately we need God to intervene. This year it begins with a plea for peace in a world that only seems to know how to go to war. It is hard to talk about peace, given the violence of recent days, and given the fragmentation that seems to follow the trauma of violence. I pray that we can practice peace in this extraordinary season and on into the ordinary time that follows.
Advent Schedule of Special Services
1. Senior Adult Fellowship Luncheon: Tuesday, December 8, 11:00 a.m. The program is a musical performance by Thulani Mnisi, MC senior in vocal performance from Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a Leontyne Price scholarship contest winner.
2. Missions Wednesday Night, December 9 at 6 p.m in the fellowship hall. A Special Intergenerational Program: The Refugee Crisis. The GA’s and RA’s have a program to present while together folks of all ages learn about how we can help in this current refugee crisis. This program will replace the children’s missions program, Portuguese lessons, and the prayer service. Please join us. Supper will be served at 5:30 p.m. as usual.
3. Moravian Love Feast Sunday, December 13, 6:00 p.m. This unique service traces its roots to the early centuries of Christianity when believers would share table fellowship as a way of demonstrating their love for Christ and for one another. Northside has celebrated the Love Feast of sweet milky coffee and sweet buns served by the deacons as part of our Advent keeping since 1991. It is an opportunity to sing favorite Christmas hymns, share stories of Advents or Christmases past, and to be together, anticipating the coming of the Light of the world.
4. Advent Caroling: Wednesday, December 18th at 5:30 p.m., we will gather to go caroling and visiting our members who are homebound or unable to attend for other reasons. We will be calling to make arrangements to go to as many as we can, so please come join and help us bring “good tidings of comfort and joy!” Afterward we will enjoy a chili dinner in the fellowship hall. Caroling and dinner should conclude by 7 p.m.
5. Christmas Eve Service of Prayer and Communion, 11:00 p.m. Welcome Christ’s coming as we gather for this service of prayer and candles, readings and communion. The service concludes soon after midnight.