Fourth Week of Advent: Peace
Note: I wanted to do this weekly “Choose Happy” blog during the pandemic to give hope to others. Next week’s will be the last one on a regular basis. I may do weekly short inspirational posts for those who are subscribers, but won’t be promoting them on a regular basis. Thank you for reading and I hope they have been a welcome bit of inspiration for you each week.– STR
Today is the fourth week of Advent and the candle on the Advent wreath this week is for Peace. Peace is something we all want to achieve– I know I do.
How can we achieve Peace in a hectic world? For one thing– get out of the “world” and into the “word.”
Being a writer I love playing around with words and I love creating things like “Less Negativity and more NATIVITY” and now today “Get out of the World and into the WORD.” That only means focus more on your Christian faith as a way to help you through your problems and help you achieve peace. (I warned those of other faiths I would be focussing on Christ during this Advent season, so I am talking to those who want to hear this, not trying to change anyone.)
Even if you are not the “Bible reading type” you can find passages that can bring you peace. The whole Nativity story is peaceful because while it was probably chaotic with everyone trying to pay taxes and the hotel full of loud people, we focus on the Birth of Christ and nothing is more peaceful than a sleeping baby. Of course when the baby came out he was crying, but the Bible tells us Mary wrapped the baby up in “swaddling clothing” and put him in the manger.
It’s just a way of telling us to not think of the chaos around us but focus on what is good and what is right. I have some friends who received some scary and disappointing news this week but after processing it– yes it was bad news and yes it will require some work to get things back to normal– they decided to focus on what is good. There’s nothing they can do about that bad news but there IS something they can do to try to achieve peace during this tough time.
So we planned a Zoom Bingo game! I know, I know, it won’t solve the problem, but it will give us all a fun time in the middle of it all. That’s what I hope you are doing for the holidays. I hope you are using all this COVID-19 “shelter at home” time to relax and do things that make you happy. Keep having fun and don’t let the virus– or Christmas — steal your Peace.
I posted yesterday on Facebook that since this is the first Christmas without my mother-in-law we decided to carry on her tradition of making peanut butter cookies.
Every year we would go to her house and it would make me cringe to see all those peanut butter cookies sitting out just waiting for us to eat them… and eat them… and eat them!
I would practically get sick from eating too many of those darn peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle of them… but here I am trying to re-create that scene for my sons and grandsons because it was such a part of Christmas.
What are some things you used to do that maybe in recent years you might not be doing? What is stopping you?
When we make our homes “homey” and put out things that remind us of Christmases past, we are also making memories of Christmas today which we will look back at in the future. So maybe you are going through a tough time. Things will get better and rather than look back on that “dreadful Christmas” you can look back on the fun you had. Even in the worst of times there are blessings.
If you don’t believe me, take the case of another friend whose husband has just been put on hospice. The whole family is gathered around and rather than sitting there somber-faced I am seeing pictures of the Dad in a Christmas sweater and fun family pictures. I see friends bringing over food and gifts. They are continuing to make memories because there are grandkids who to them this is the only “Christmas” they will have this year–and they will have a fun memory even though it takes some work on the brave Mom’s part.
We can all choose happy if we try. Or we can wallow in things we miss or people who can’t be with us. When we worry and fret we lose our Peace, and in one of my favorite quotes from the minister Creflo Dollar: “Peace is my greatest asset and I’m not going to spend it on your drama.”
This week is the week that your Savior was born and that very thought can bring us Peace in our hearts.
Think of the Peace that Mary had in her heart when the Angel told her to “fear not,” She may have been terrified, but she chose to believe in God and in miracles.
We must all learn to believe that God has Peace for us. Make peaceful areas in your house and take the time out of your day to just “be.” Read Christmas books, devotionals, watch Christmas movies, sing or listen to Christmas songs. Don’t think about COVID-19 or medical diagnoses, or finances or anything that upsets you. This is the time to focus on what gives you Peace right here and now. It’s a magical time of year and all due to the beautiful story told in several versions in the Bible.
“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” — Matthew 2:9-11 ESV
I hope that just stopping for a few minutes and remembering the special verses in the Bible from the Birth of Christ will give you Peace in your hearts. During crazy times you may think “How can I have Peace?!” You can have it if you accept it. It’s a gift from God and sometimes we don’t even know how we can feel so peaceful at a difficult time. That’s why it’s called the Peace that passes understanding.
Light a candle and take a deep breath. God is about to fill your heart with Peace. Accept it. Choose Happy.
Bible Verse: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ESV
Quote: “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” —Dalai Lama.
One Last Thought:
About that Star…
The “Star of Bethlehem” was what alerted people about the birth of Christ. What appeared to be a large star pointed to the manger in Bethlehem and a star has become a symbol of the Christmas season. Well guess what? We are so lucky to be living in 2020! Yes I just said we are so lucky to be living in 2020— because this year there will be special scientific conversion that will replicate the Star.
According to Nasa.com: “Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the ‘Christmas Star’ is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.
“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”
The “star” is available to be seen all this week but one hour after sunset is the best time. The photo to the right was taken Sunday. Go outside tonight and look to the southwest. May the thought that many years ago a “star” of this type led people to Bethlehem and the manger where our Lord was born. Mary and Joseph and Jesus. Think about that and how we are connected to that very night because of this amazing phenomenon happening again in 2020.
We are all connected to each other because we are all searching for Peace and we know where to look for it. Look towards the “Light of the World” and you will find true Peace.
For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here’s what to do: (According to NASA)
- Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
- An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
- The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
Sally Tippett Rains is a motivational speaker, inspirational writer and author of 13 books, including Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation. She is the volunteer Executive Director of Rainbows for Kids and content manager for STLSportsPage.com.
“If there is any way I can pray for you, please let me know. It has been an honor to know you read my blog. Have a very Peaceful and Merry Christmas. No matter what, don’t let anyone steal your Peace and Joy. Don’t forget to check back on Christmas Day as we wrap this Christmas devotional up. If you’ve missed some you can find them on RainbowsForKids.org on the Choose Happy Blog page.”