In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (ESV)
What is your “city?” Is it your family? Your career? Your home? We desire to find safety and peace in the places we call our “city.” It is only natural to try and create an environment where we belong, where we can rest where we can thrive. This is a good and Godly desire for us. After all, God created us and the world and said it was “good,” and dwelled amongst us. Our need and longing for safety, rest, and peace is built into us. When man decided to try to create safety and peace on our own apart from God, we lost the connection with the only true source of peace- our Creator, God.
Sin entered the world and mankind began an outright rebellion against God and His perfect intention for us. Meanwhile, we tried everything we could create on our own what we had in the garden. Our pursuit for peace is only ever at best temporary. The conflict needed resolving. The brokenness needed restoring.
In Advent, we remember and teach that God had a plan: to fix what was broken and to save us from ourselves. It is in the salvation that comes from Jesus that we can have, as Isaiah says, “a strong city.” Jesus has come and has won for us the peace that we’ve all tried so hard to create ourselves, and our best gift at Christmas is the very righteousness God Almighty has given freely to those who believe. The apostle Paul says this in his second letter to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 5:21: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It is not by our merit or ability or effort that we can find peace with God and the world. We can not dwell with a holy God unless we accept and are filled with the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. It is through faith in the gift of salvation and imputed righteousness from the person and work of Jesus Christ that we have hope and peace today.
In this world of chaos and unrest, there is peace for our souls as we expectantly wait for the completion of God’s restorative work in the world. When we build our “city” with the defense and strong walls of what God does for us, we can be conquers. And with the strength of His righteousness, we can be those who join the fight to restore Godly peace in this world. Let us, this Advent, trust in the peace that has been established for us in Christ, and live out of the strength that He provides.
Blessings, Pastor Matt
The Book of Common Prayer Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent