Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 4, Monday

Peace in Chaos

Micah 5:2-5a

 

                  One
of my favorite movies that has released in the past five years is August
Rush
.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend it. It has a wonderful story of
hope. August, the main character, is a musical prodigy who is orphaned as a
baby and seeks to find his parents. There is a scene where August is in the
noisy streets of New York, and he begins to hear music in the midst of all of
the chaotic noise that comes with an urban setting. The noise begins to turn to
music. Where most would feel overwhelming busyness, August feels music that is
uplifting.

                  During
the time of Micah’s writing, it was a chaotic time of national insecurity for
the people of Israel. Most scholars believe Micah wrote during and/or after the
exile which was a difficult time for the Israelites as they were taken from
their home or their families were taken from them. You might say it was a time
lacking peace. But here Micah offers a word of hope of one who “shall be the
one of peace” (v. 5).

                  Peace
is often a difficult idea for us to wrap our minds around and even more
difficult to wrap our lives around. When Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem
for the census declared by Caesar, it was a very chaotic scene in the small
town in Judea. But something happened there in that busy small town that
brought peace in the midst of chaos. The “one of peace” was born.

                  The
Christmas season is inevitably busy for the majority of us, and the busyness
can often overshadow our focus on the reason for the season. I often say “yes”
to too many things and overwhelm myself with busyness, especially this time of
year. So I decided this Advent season I would set aside one hour of every day
leading up to Christmas as an hour of peace. For one hour each day, I’ve turned
off the tv, music, computer, cell phone, and anything else that may distract
me, and I’ve either read, prayed, played guitar (it’s peaceful for me), etc. It
has been difficult to just stop, but it also has been refreshing to relax and
reflect.

                  For
this final week of advent, I challenge you to take a time for peace. Whether
you stop for 15 minutes or an hour, take some time to relax and reflect on the
peace that came with “the one of peace”. Maybe we should turn noise into music,
chaos into peace. Maybe in realizing what peace is in our own lives, we can
then offer that peace to those around us by pointing to the Prince of Peace.

 

Brad

Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 3, Monday


Bringing Joy through Acting Justly

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Brad

                  I wear two
wristbands on my right wrist that are specific daily reminders for me. The
first is made of hemp and has three beads, one representing my family, one
representing our church family and community around it, and one representing
Kaushik Ray, the compassion child in India I sponsor. Every time I where it I’m
reminded to both pray for and act out in love for those represented by the
wristband. The second wristband is a silicone band that says “Seek Justice”
representing an organization I support called International Justice Mission.

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Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 2, Monday

Embracing Fear as Prompting Action

Malachi 3:1-4

Brad Berryhill

                  If
you’re like me, when you think about Christmas and the anticipation it brings,
you tend to have mixed emotions. On one hand I’m extremely excited and ready
for this time of year, and on the other I dread the busy chaos it brings. I
imagine the people whom the writer of Malachi addresses had much of the same
emotions. On one hand they are excited about the coming of the Lord, but on the
other they hear the message of the second verse saying, “But who can endure the
day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” It brings in an element
of fear or concern of what comes with the arrival of the Messiah.

                  The
weeks leading up to my college graduation day I had some mixed emotions as
well. There was excitement and relief that I had finally earned my degree and
could start something completely new, but there was also a fear of the new life
and responsibilities that were arriving with it. Questions, doubt, and fear
grew as the day came closer, but it was good I had that anxiety. My doubt and fear
prompted me toward action and searching into what was next rather than just
sitting back and waiting.

                  Often
we dismiss our doubt and fear in following Jesus as being outside the will of
God, or we even push the blame on Satan. The fear we have is not a horror or an
overwhelming worry, but it is a concern or questioning of following God into
today and even the future. Maybe the questions we have are ones we truly need
to ask ourselves and others? Maybe the fear is a result of the Spirit directing
us into action? This type of doubt and fear could actually be the Spirit of God
refining us.

                  Being
refined by God is not merely done in a single act of obedience. It is a journey
of refining that often brings heat and pressure into our lives that will cause
us to doubt and be afraid. The same is in the awaited coming of Christ both
declared by John the Baptist and by us in his second coming. John’s message,
like Malachi’s, was one of excitement and hope, but it was also a message of
change. Not just a change that was coming but a change that needed to be made
in the people. The Messiah is coming, therefore, we need to change and be
ready.

                  We
also have that same message as we point toward the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus
is coming to make things right, therefore, we must be people who change and
make things right. We must be refined, and it’s not comfortable. There is fear
and doubt, but they should prompt us toward action instead worry and waiting.
The element of fear and doubt is always there in truly giving our lives for the
Kingdom, but they should not hold us back. They should grow us closer to being
Jesus in the world. We declare the coming of Jesus by being like Jesus in our
global community.

Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 1, Monday

Not just "there, there" but real hope

Brad Berryhill

            The
prophet Jeremiah writes during a time of extreme hardship for the Israelite
community as they’re seeing their nation destroyed and their people deported
from their home. The world as they know it is ending and a new one is beginning.
A world that for them is not joyous or peaceful but depressing and violent.
They are a people that seem hopeless, but Jeremiah offers hope. Not just a
simple “there, there” pat on the back, he offers the hope of justice and
righteousness. There is a hope and promise of one bringing hope, a Messiah, who
will set things right for them.

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Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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