Read Zephaniah 3:14-20

from Rev. Earl Shaw, Minister of the Word for the Region

As we continue this Advent season, we remember to give thanks for all of God’s great gifts to us. The prophet Zephaniah speaks in past, present, and future tenses. His words are of judgment, repentance, reconciliation, and hope with the joy in God’s faithfulness to be fulfilled through the yet-to-come Christ. In addition, he also points us to Christ’s second coming and reminds us that there will be a time yet to come when we will have our greatest celebration of all, our final homecoming with God,. Zephaniah looks beyond judgment to a day of hope and restoration for all people. In 3:14 Zephaniah says “Sing, O daughter of Zion…Shout all Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart. O, daughter of Jerusalem.”

The apostle Paul, even while facing possible death as a prisoner of Rome, echoes Zephaniah’s command to rejoice: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Quite an unusual declaration considering Paul’s circumstances. Paul, like Zephaniah, tells us that God is nearby and that Christ will come again, bringing a peace that surpasses all understanding, which will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Peace will then spread across the land (Philippians 4:4-7).

The Advent season is about Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, commodities which often seem in short supply in our world. Especially, that of peace. Not just the peace found in the absence of conflict, but rather the calming inner-peace feeling that all is well. A priceless peace born out of a harmonious relationship between the Creator and the created, with its foundation in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Advent is about reconciliation of the spirit, and the peace that surpasses all understanding that Paul preaches. May “the incomparable peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” our Lord.

Lord, help us to join in prayers for peace, unity, joy, and hope for all of your people.