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Week 2, Monday:  Peace

Kim Hersey

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Superficial Sentimentality of the Season

A few years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the city of Los Angeles. However, it was not the typical "trip to Disneyland" visit. I was with a group of college students who were attending a Sunday School convention in Pasadena, along with a professor who has a heart for urban ministry. Our "spare time" was spent viewing the city from that perspective. Allow me to share a few "snapshots" of my trip.

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The first photo is of the Sunday School convention itself, in Pasadena. I attended a workshop in a meeting room at the Pasadena Hilton. I was in the middle of worldly riches, to be sure, but I was with people who shared in heavenly riches, and material wealth seemed strikingly poor. This snapshot was of people who did not fit in their surroundings--rich people in a "poor" world.

The next picture in the scrapbook is lunch at Carl's Jr. (For those of us from Idaho, it is a novel treat to eat there!). People, many students, of every race were together in one restaurant. Their skin spoke of contrasts in culture, language, and family. Yet, if their hearts could be heard, there would be a unity of need. The contrast of this need with the riches of the people with whom I had gone to Carl's Jr. was very clear.

My favorite picture of the day is one of a party held at Central City Community Church. There was no worldly wealth there, just the streets of inner-city Los Angeles, with the Mercado in full swing as we arrived. The material poverty of the people on the street divulged the secrets of their spiritual poverty, too.

What a contrast to what was happening on the third floor of a mostly-empty building! Children, teens, and adults were rejoicing and having fun together, across racial, age, and socioeconomic differences. We were celebrating; we were truly wealthy! It did not matter that the children were going home to run-down hotels (formerly the classy hotels of the city-another picture of contrast) and that we were returning to Idaho; we were all rich in God's eyes, and we were rich in relationship.

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The final snapshot is late in the evening. We viewed the city's skyline from an observatory. I reflected on the day as I looked out over the lights of Los Angeles. I realized that Los Angeles is a city of contrasts, in every sense of the word. But, just as the lights of Hollywood and Wilshire corridor can be seen clearly in the midst of all the other lights in L.A., the lights of the Gospel and the love of Christ can be seen in the city.

The contrasts of this trip are still so clear in my mind: rich and poor, relationship and loneliness, diversity of people and unity of need. How like the Christmas season! The world has its picture of Christmas, of shopping, Santa, and sentimental greetings. We send cards to people from whom we hear only annually, and we buy gifts to express our love or friendship. There is even talk of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to men" among those who rarely consider such things possible.

Yet, the contrast is stark. The biblical picture of Christmas is so much more! God-in-the-flesh has come to Earth. God, in Christ, has come to show all people the depths of His infinite love for them. He has come to walk among us, to build relationship with us. Imagine it! The Creator of the universe, building the bridge so we can be friends, no, more than that--be family, with God! Do you see the contrast? The superficial sentimentality of the season will come and go. "Peace on earth" will largely be forgotten by January 1, 1999. However, for those who see the Savior, those who see the contrast, peace will not be forgotten. The peace of God will reign in the hearts and lives of those who seek Him.

I wish you the peace of the Savior this Christmas.

~ Kim Hersey
Fruitland, Idaho, USA

Today's Scripture Readings*
[Psalm 25] [Amos 7:1-9] [Revelation 1:1-8] [Matthew 22:23-33]

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Dear Lord,

Thank you for reminding me that it was not JUST me that Jesus came to bless. For so many people this is the only time of the year that they even pause to think about you. But Father, through me, let the satisfaction of constantly experiencing You be evident to all who see as the rush of the season presses in from every direction. Lord, help me to actively accept the peace You seek to bring. And then, help me to share it, not only for the season, but for the rest of the new year as well.


*These readings are adapted from the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer, Year 2.  For Year 1 readings, see Daily Readings, Advent 1.

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