2nd Sunday in Advent Peace Came To Earth, LSB #’s 397, 763
Text – Matthew 2:10
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
LOOK UP! THE STAR OF PEACE DRAWS NEAR
We have seen how Christmas starts earlier every year. Not Christmas itself, which is still December 25, & not Advent, which begins four weeks before Christmas. Those dates are fixed, but the buildup to Christmas has been creeping up earlier & earlier each year.
Stores compete to be the 1st to put up Christmas colors & have Christmas sales. Your co-worker in the next cubicle has been playing Christmas songs for two weeks now. Christmas cookies have already been made &, in some homes, batches of them have already disappeared.
We start early because we have a lot to do. Christmas can be a pursuit & search to achieve so many goals. Your personal goals might be to get the shopping done early or have all the cards sent out before December 10. Those are good, but for our Advent worship, we’re going to have a larger goal for these coming weeks.
This Advent, we’re going to focus on how we seek peace & how we define the peace we are seeking. That peace can be thought of as a five-point star. Each point is a direction or a pursuit that seeks one dimension of peace. Left to ourselves, that pursuit would never end.
But the good news is that God meets us, stops our endless chase, & gives us a new understanding of His gift of peace. That peace always comes through the birth of Jesus, the Word who became flesh, who stepped into our world to fulfill our desire for peace.
Let’s start by drawing out the first point in our star of peace. We’ll make the top point of the star a very common way to seek peace: possessions. The more possessions, the better. For many, this is the most obvious pursuit during Christmastime. Getting ready for Christmas can mean getting more & newer stuff than we already have. The promise of “getting” is that Christmas will be just right if we have all the right things. That may include all the gifts we can imagine or enough decorations to stock our own Christmas store. After all, if one gift is good, five will be better & ten might finally be enough!
Picture this top of the star. How tall does it have to be to achieve satisfaction? Will this point ever stop? How far & high does it need to go for you to find peace? We’ve already found that out, even as children. Yesterday’s toys lay broken & forgotten. Tomorrow’s toys won’t last any longer. Before we go any further in this pursuit, God stops us to say, “Enough!”
To counter our pursuit of peace by gathering more & more, God instructs us with words of contentment from Paul: “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, & we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food & clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6–8)
God is a watchful Father who sees us dashing off, gathering more & more, building up speed as we plow ahead. But He knows the dangers in our journey & snatches us up, saying, “Enough!” God is like a father watching his children shoot down a snowy hill on their sleds, & everything is wonderful. But at the bottom of the hill is a pond that isn’t quite frozen yet.
What’s a father to do but play goalie & catch each child before they slide onto the pond! His message is the same as our heavenly Father’s: “I know you want to go on & on, but you have no idea of the danger. Let’s stop right here.” So our heavenly Father stops us out of love & His knowledge of the dangers before us.
The words of Paul fit perfectly: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless & harmful desires that plunge people into ruin & destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9) See how the Father catches us firmly before we plunge into ruin. But besides catching us, our heavenly Father also provides. He has already given us the food & clothing we need, along with the many other things that fill our homes & garages. He could say, “There, you have what you need, so be content.” And beyond that, He gives us His Son, leading us by the light of the star. Imagine the pursuit of peace the Wise Men completed. They saw the star from a great distance & by God’s gift, they understood what that star meant.
The Messiah promised in the OT was born! They discovered a true treasure as it opened in the heavens. Imagine their excitement each night as they waited for the stars to appear. That one star appeared, again & again, guiding their journey. They pursued the star & brought their treasures with them. But they didn’t travel to add more gold to their packs.
They knew their treasure would be a newborn child. That’s the star that guides us every Advent. That star still shines, & its bright points call us to look up for our treasure. Our greatest treasure & richest gain are not saved in the cloud. Our treasure is fixed in the message of the Christmas star. Planets wander through the sky. Clouds come & go, but stars are fixed in place.
Peace comes from the certainty of the star that pointed to the One who is God’s lasting treasure. Follow the joyful path of the Magi, who saw the star & were more than content, knowing that the King had been born. The peace of God comes as He meets us & says, “Follow Me.” The Magi followed a silent star, but we can hear the words of the Savior Himself.
They only saw the star as they traveled. We have Jesus’ words every day. Joyful, we join all who have heard His invitation & followed His star. The Magi brought their treasures & happily left them behind because they had one focus that 1st Christmas. Treasures of gold, incense & myrrh were nothing in comparison to that Child.
Leaving Him, they rode away, retelling the story of the star & the Savior. While they had to leave the infant Jesus as they returned home, Jesus, the greatest treasure, is with us every day. The star of peace begins our journey with the promise of more than simply adding to our list of
presents. Pursuing always the latest & the largest is a never-ending journey. God stops us, as a wise Father, snatches us up, & says, “Enough!” Look up & see a lasting star & treasure.
The star of the Messiah’s birth is always before us, waiting for us to see. The Messiah’s star is already in our skies. The gift of His birth is more than enough to fill our Advent & our Christmas. Peace is found in the One who has already come & made us His own. Amen.
As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold; as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright; so, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led by Thee. Holy Jesus, every day keep us in the narrow way; & when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide. In the heavenly country bright need they no created light; Thou its light, its joy, its crown, Thou its sun which goes not down; there forever may we sing alleluias to our King. Amen. LSB 397:1, 4-5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet