SERMON TITLE: “The Way of Peace”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 1:57-58, 67-79
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: December 6, 2020, at First UMC
Do you remember back in March when the pandemic first started affecting us, and we were having strange experiences? We couldn’t sleep, and when we did, we had weird dreams. We stocked up on groceries and then ate them like we were starving. Even though we didn’t yet know anyone who was sick or dying, we were suddenly thrown into a state of high alert, if not panic. Some of those bizarre symptoms of shock have worn off over these nine months, but our initial reaction to the threat of the coronavirus has now given way to a constant state of daily trauma in which we name the growing number of people we know and love who have gotten ill and some who have died. And we face the everyday and very-real possibility that we could become infected or infect someone else with serious sickness before we all arrive at that post-vaccination safe zone sometime next year.
Psychologists talk about the damaging effects on the human psyche when there is a perception of constant trauma or threat. The feeling of being under siege is hard on us. That’s why our bodies, as well as our minds and souls, so desperately long for peace. Every year, the second candle on our Advent wreath reminds us of the importance of peace. But this year, maybe more than most, we need God to help us find “the way of peace.”
Our scripture text this morning is about the birth of John the Baptist. You know that John was the slightly-older cousin of Jesus, who called people to repentance and baptism along the Jordan River. John’s message prepared them to hear and follow Jesus. In this passage from Luke 1, we hear John’s father Zechariah speaking some prophetic words about the ministry of salvation and peace that is coming. Let’s zero in on his message and see what Zechariah meant. Maybe, then, we too can be guided into the way of peace.