‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ (Luke 2:14)
This week’s Thursday Thought is a bit different. While most of these focus on ideas that point us forward to worship through our Bible texts for the week, this week we focus on worship through another way. We want to talk about the flame we will use this week and for the rest of Advent. The flame in our sanctuary candle has been relit with fire that has been spread directly from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a site to honor the place where Jesus was born.
Last Tuesday, the Bethlehem Peace Flame was brought to Zion United Methodist Church in Hampshire. Congregations from around the area were invited to come, light a lantern from that flame, and bring it back for use in their own place. Marlene drove out to Hampshire and brought the flame back for us. Each week for the rest of Advent, we will light our altar candles and the Advent Wreath from this flame. The flame is spread around the world as a way of lifting up a message of peace. The candle we light this week, the second candle on our wreath, is the candle of peace.
We live in a world of violence where peace is elusive. Wars and threats of wars are in many places. Arguments about how to help or not help refugees who are victims of these wars raise emotions and anger. Mass shootings this year in our own country are now at numbers that average more than one per day this year. We long for peace at home, abroad and everywhere.
The birth of Jesus brings with it the promise of coming peace. That peace starts within each of us as we trust Jesus to bring us life and put our hope in him. That peace spreads as we live, not like the rest of the world, but as followers of Jesus and people who bring a message of peace and live out of that commitment in our own lives.
Are you hungry for peace in your life and for our world? This week we light the wreath with a prayer for peace. We do it with fire that has traveled around the world from Bethlehem to help us join people all over the world in this prayer.
Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.” Come, Lord Jesus!