The Painful Price Of Peace- Second Sunday of Advent

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk 

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II Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

I gaze at my simple nativity set, handcrafted in wood, complete with Baby Jesus asleep in the manger, sheep and shepherds nearby, and the Wise Men kneeling with their gifts.  The Star wobbles from atop the arch of the stable, and all is innocent, serene, and seemingly untouched by the dark world that surrounds the lit vignette.

There is no indication in the image of this peaceful and quiet night that thirty-three years later the veil would be torn in half, and Jesus’ physical body would give up its’ soul to be once again in the right hand of His Father.  There is no indication that the Prince of Peace would have to suffer excruciating pain to bring the peace the world so desperately needs.  There is no understanding in Mary’s heart that she would have to give up her precious Son to hands of human hate and see Him choose to walk straight into a violent, bloody and lonely death.  All this the price for our peace.

We take the manger scene and the calm it evokes and want it to be the miracle for all that is keeping us from living joyfully, with confident hope.  We may not want to admit that pain was the only path to an eternal peace, and for us, it is pain that is the greatest gift for our transformation into Christ-likeness.

Peace comes at a price and has a power that cuts through every dark thought, every dark act, every unimaginable sin.  Would I receive it as a gift, and not squander it by allowing my fear to cohabitate with this immeasurable promise?  How much more valuable is it that peace can only come to us and was bought for us through His pain? 

Lord, I receive Your peace this second Sunday of advent. If Your peace had the power to shake the universe, it has the power to envelope me and keep me in perfect peace while the world spins out of control around me. 

May the Lord of peace Himself, give me peace at all times and in every way. The Lord is with me, the Lord is with you, Emmanuel.

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome To Our World
Welcome To Our World
(Chris Rice)

Hope Against All Hope - First Sunday of Advent

Written by: Cathie Ostapchuk

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Hope against all Hope.

When we light the candle of Hope this first Sunday of Advent, we do it sincerely, with all the Hope we can muster that the complicated world will somehow straighten itself out and all will be well. We whisper a prayer of Hope that we would be able to neatly wrap our lives and our hopes for the people we love all up in a pretty bow, much like the presents under the tree.

We hold with all our might to the kind of Hope that barely believes there is the merest possibility that what we want and what we need to change could actually come about.

I doubt this is the variety of Hope that Romans 4:18 refers to when describing the hope that Abraham had:  ”Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing…”

Abraham’s was an all or nothing Hope, a Hope against all Hope that had nothing to do with a mere possibility but an unchangeable, immutable Promise.

There is a big difference between my pipe dream and the Promised Land.  In fact, the Promised One is the only person who could multiply my small, fearful Hope that I will hopefully make it another day into a life-changing anchor.   All of a sudden the Promised One makes the impossible, possible.  My small and trepid Hope is actually transformed into a big, bold, belief that He is who He says He is, He will redeem and restore all of Creation and His Created, He will come again, and I will dance and sing an everlasting love song with the God of the universe.

Jeremiah 33:14-16:

“The days are coming, ’declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; He will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Saviour.’”

This is what we Hope for, against all Hope, now and forever.  He has already come, Emmanuel, God with us, and He is coming again.  We hold a Hope seed in us, not of a doubtful, fearful wondering, but of a real and courageous belief that all will be well.  Hope against all Hope.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Holy One
May your hope
Encircle me
May your hope
Grow within me
May your hope
Reach beyond me
AMEN

Pray for New Brunswick

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Every month this year we have celebrated one of our uniquely beautiful provinces. As Canada has celebrated 150 years we have prayed monthly for our nation! We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. This month our prayer focus is on New Brunswick.

  • Pray for wisdom for Premier Brian Gallant as he leads the leaders of this province.
  • New Brunswick has developed a non-profit housing model in St. John that has become a model other areas and provinces are hoping to follow. Pray for the leaders of this project and for the political leaders involved, that they may make decisions and provide guidance benefiting all the residents of New Brunswick.

  • New Brunswick is home to many companies of the pulp and paper industry, as well as wonderful forestry initiatives. Pray God would help the Energy and Resource Development department to both protect their natural resources and provide for their people.
     
  • December is a month full of opportunities for churches and Para church ministries to be involved in their communities. Pray the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ would ring true in the hearts of many people this season. Ask God to bring many new people into His kingdom through the truth and love that shines bright at Christmas.
  • Pray for church leaders, pastors, teachers, staff and volunteers. As the year comes to a close, may they each know the true depth of God’s love, may they each feel the presence of His hand upon their lives and ministries, and may they each be restored through the peace that only God can give.

God keep our land glorious and free. In Jesus Name. (2 Corinthians 3:17) 

Thank you for joining with other women across Canada in prayer.  
The Prayer Team