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Fourth Sunday in Advent (2022)

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Philippians 4:4-7

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, last Sunday marked Gaudete Sunday and our Epistle lesson today continues that theme, as we look ahead to the coming of Christ. For it is not only joy that Jesus brings to us, but He also brings to us peace which surpasses all understanding. It is on this peace that we will meditate today.
A World Filled With Distress
We listen to the News , and there are no end of troubles.
We used to hear about tragedies a few times a year, and then it became monthly, weekly, and now it seems nightly that the worst things in the world come into our living room.
Our concerns aren’t just local, but global.
Now this has brought with it additional problems. For if the problems are local, there is something we can typically do to help our neighbor directly and in the moment, but when we look globally and see all of the woes of this world, it is overwhelming.
Most of these issues are beyond our control.
Can we natural gas issues in Europe? Can we stop starvation in African Countries? On an individual level we are presented with a near endless list of problems that we cannot solve or fix, but they are shown to us regularly and ...
This leads us to believe we are helpless.
Bearing Our Anxieties Alone
If we can only rely on ourselves, then how can we rejoice?
This is not at all to speak about our own problems, and now we have presented before us the problems of the world, and we are expected if not to help to care in some fashion for it? How can we rejoice??
The greatest problem is we want things our way.
We have an idea of how the world should be, and we try to force that on the world. Then get angry when our idea doesn’t fit with the world. Think that makes the world wrong.
We forget that we pray, your will be done.
Not my will, not my plans, not the plans of government, we do not pray for the will of men to be accomplished, but the will of God to be done on earth. For He is the one who is working all things to the good.
We are to let God worry, and go about our callings.
The reason the outcome you have chased after might not be happening is because it is not God’s Will. Instead of looking for our outcomes and demanding that our plans come to fruition, we should instead confess to the Lord that we have no idea how to handle any of these problems, and cast all our anxieties on him, and let God worry about it, and go about the work that He has called you to do.
The Peace Which Surpasses Understanding
We seek not the peace of the world, but of God.
These are two very different things, and it is important to understand the difference between them otherwise you will grow frustrated and think that God doesn’t care at all about you, and you will not know how Paul can say be at peace.
Worldly peace is only found when all problems are gone.
This is like saying, I’m a nice person, unless you cross me, then you better watch out. Or being able to manage stress, but you can only do that by having no stress in your life.
This is why the world does not find peace, despite all the efforts of men, for they seek a world without problems, a world without sin, and it doesn’t exist in this world.
The Peace of God is found even when surrounded by troubles.
For our peace is not found in the things of this world but rather in who God is, and what he has done for our sake. So even though the world might surround us with troubles, we are not surprised nor dismayed, for God is our peace, not the world.
The devil will seek to steal and end our peace, which is why it must be in God’s care.
This is important, he will try to convince us to place our peace in the things that are passing away, and try to persuade us that what GOd has given is not good enough. Consider the Garden, the devil tempted Eve with something more than God had given, instead of clinging to God’s Word she sought something more in this life.
Our Prince of Peace
This is what Jesus came to give you.
Jesus wanted you to have peace with God, but how could that be in a world so full of trouble? Indeed we saw evidence of God’s wrath and his judgments against sin, mankind, and the world, how could we have peace with God, how could we know this peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus?
Jesus did this by reconciling you to God.
By his incarnation, he tore down the dividind wall of hostility that was between God and man, by suffering the wrath of God for you. By his suffering and death he opened the way to the father that you might have peace with God, and that you might have hope and someone you can approach in every hour of need.
Jesus promises that God hears your prayers, because He cares for you.
That is why we are able to cast our anxieties on Him not because of our goodness or how great we are, but because Christ has opened the door and brought you before the Father as His dear children, who see a world that terrifies them and is too big to handle, and they need to know that it is going to be ok.
If Jesus was able to secure peace with God, why are you worried about the world?
For if God is for us, who can be against us? For we do not understand everything that is happening in the world, but we know the one who watches over all things, and who has promised to keep us safe and bring us to be with him.
Rejoicing and Reasonableness
This is why Christians are known as people of joy.
For Jesus has secured for us the peace of our heavenly father, and we have nothing left to fear, we can laugh at our grave for even though we will lie down in it, we shall arise.
The world isn’t better, but we have hope.
Indeed, if our hope was tied a better world, then there would be no reason to ever hope, but Christ is our hope, He is our salvation, and so we are cheerful despite the world.
The reasonableness he speaks means also gentleness.
This is how we deal with our fellow man, for in a world that is so filled with chaos it is tempting to repay evil for evil, but that is not how Christ repaid us. He bore our sins, our failings, our imperfections, not to afflict us, but that we might be reconciled to God. This means we are not harsh or mean-spirited but bear things patiently. The strength to do this
It flows from the peace of God.
For indeed if we did not know this peace, we would act like the world, but we see the love that Christ has for us, we our hearts have experienced this peace which surpasses all understand how can we afflict our neighbors, when God has not afflicted us as we desire.
So my brothers and Sisters in Christ, May the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ our Lord give to this peace which surpasses all understanding, may it guard your hearts and minds, and whenever the world threatens to overwhelm you, remember that Christ has opened the way to the Father for you, and you may cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. You are his dear child and he is your dear father thanks to the babe born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ our Lord. In his name. Amen.
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