I'm late with this post but last Sunday was a great day in the life of our church. We went to bed on Saturday night with the news that a car bomb had exploded about 5 blocks from where we live and another man carrying explosives had died while walking toward a busy shopping area. Authorities called it a terrorist act that had failed. We were very thankful that more damage was not wrought and that all in all, the incident seemed contained. Still...to have this happen in Stockholm, Sweden has shaken many of us. Sweden is a peace seeking nation with an official stance of neutrality in the world's conflicts. Still, some have been angered by some things here and thus the offensive action.
As we gathered on Sunday morning for our 3rd Sunday in Advent celebration, I suppose it was more appropriate than we could have ever have guessed that our theme for the day was redemption. We were also lighting the candle of joy, a joy that is based not on what the world brings, but the everlasting joy that knowing Christ offers. As I lit the candles of hope and peace from the first two Sundays, I was struck by how badly our world needs the gifts that Christ brings to us at Christmas.
In my pastoral prayer for the day I prayed for those involved in the violent act that ensued in the streets of our city the previous night. For those injured or shaken to their core, we asked for healing. But I also prayed for those perpetuating the violence, that in the midst of their anger and disappointment they would see that there are better ways to solve problems or address issues than to reign down terror on others. This is a good word for us all...we need to find peaceful and reasonable ways to make our point and listen to others. When we don't get our way, we need to be able to humbly accept what we cannot change and continue to seek to live our lives with courage and integrity, whilst not oppressing others.
Another highlight of our morning together was watching Doug share in the children's time about how his broken leg was a real bummer, but that in the midst of this unwanted thing, God was teaching him many things. The kids were rapt in their attention as they listened to Doug talk about learning to have compassion for those who are hurting.
The day was a blessing for me. It came to a close with our church choirs concert and the honoring of one of our Sunday School teachers who gives tirelessly to the ministry of our church. What a joyful place to be on the 3rd of Advent.
May the hope, peace and joy of Christ penetrate the dark places of our world and bring you personal peace and rest.