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Christmas Devotional: Peace Upon The Earth

The word peace in its rawest form means a world free of disturbance and tranquillity. The application of this word upon our earth means an age free of war. The human race has a thread throughout the beginning of time where we long for peace.

The quiet moment where we see communities working together for the “better good” of the whole rather than the advancement of the individual.

This Christmas more than ever I think we all long for good news. I don’t know about you and your house, but each and every time I turn on the news as my family settles in for the evening I regret it. The overwhelming needs found in our communities sometimes disable me.

Just recently I was sitting out to lunch with a new friend, who is a business owner in my local town. She said to me “I’d like to give back this Christmas”. I have stock that I often sell and all my stock runs low at this time of the year, but this year I want to give it away to those who don’t have much”. Over social media, we chatted about options and then we came together again to hatch a plan. Last week I went to go and pick up what I thought would be a couple of boxes of beautiful handmade products, to walk away with hundreds, upon hundreds of little gifts for people in our community.

I called our local refuge, who opens their doors three days a week for those who are needing shelter and safety, to see whether they would like to give them out to their guests. Then I also found a house of hope, that takes in young pregnant women and we gave boxes to them. Then we bought hundreds of them to a campaign that is supporting families in our community who are victims of domestic violence and are at risk.

One small conversation, that has flowed into the hearts and lives of many different families in our community. Peace is no longer decreed by the Kings of our land and leaders in far off places. Peace is waged by everyday people in the community reaching out their hands and giving from what is within it.

Proverbs 31: 20 says it this way

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I know the war of peace is waged in the hands of the unseen, when we reach out and hold hands with a stranger, letting them know that we see their unrest.

I know the strategy of victory is employed when everyday housewives and check out operators smile, with a word of encouragement.

I know that greatness is found in the most humble of places and when we acknowledge the difficulty of those in dark seasons we surge forward the plight of peace upon our earth.

Christmas awakens the heart of generosity in humankind. When we celebrate one another, sharing homemade biscuits with our neighbours and extend our hearts to those in need, the battle is taken just one step towards a greater tomorrow.

My prayer this Christmas is that we would magnify the simple acts of generosity across our society more than the consumerism that seeps into our hearts. That we together would see kindness and the little moments to encourage another as the purest gold of our generation. Together may we thread our societies with the fabric of solidarity and unity. Together may we make a difference like no other generation. To be known as a people of generosity, acceptance and love. Together may we wage war against indifference and apathy. Together may we wage peace.

In the name of Jesus

Amen

Day 6: Peace Upon The Earth

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: Prince of Heaven

Social media shocks me most days. The amount of time we give to platform building and no one is exempt. There is a weak thread in our hearts where we seek belonging and worthiness.

I struggle, we all struggle to find our voice and the place we hold in the world. One of the greatest shifts in our society currently is the evolution of where we gain our authority and surety from.

In the past, we would respect the laws of our nation and leadership was a simple question of the position of authority and mostly we would respect the title. However, we now exist in a questioning culture. Leadership is often questioned before it is trusted and we are more isolated than ever before.

The more social media we have, the more we think we’re connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other. JR

The idea of royalty and leadership is fraught with distrust and broken promises. Then enters the archaic notion of respect, lineage and simply obeying.

We have become a disconnected society that mistrusts people above all else. No wonder we are hurting and our hearts are longing for direction.

Enter this song.

An ode to the princely nature and the coming of a lowly leader. I can see why leadership has become so unpopular, because how can we serve a group of people who are labouring in silent hope.

We long for the promise to be fulfilled. We want order and comfort. We are desperate for an anthem of hope, which is a rallying cry to the beauty of healing and justice.

Isaiah 41: 10 says to us clearly…

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The power of this season lies not in the presents, the food or the twinkling lights, it is bathed in the beauty of the promise. The promise that we greet a young leader who is destined to bring light and life to all who listen to his teachings.

King of Glory

We gladly greet

Born in wonder and majesty

There is a layer of the nativity dialogue that is often overlooked. You see Kings, Leaders of the land, travelled miles upon miles, to lay very expensive gifts at the feet of a baby, who was wrapped in rags and laid in an eating trough of farm animals. The irony of this picture is often too much for my heart to take in.

Our world creates platforms and places value on Instagram influencers and rock musicians who waltz stages of glory. However, one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth, his teachings that have changed the entire course of history laid in dirty clothes in the most humble of places.

This year I pray for those humble places. For those who feel isolated, overlooked and ignored. I pray for the sleep deprived and those with chronic illness and also those who are self-consumed with their own agendas and fame. May leadership and values come back into the core of our community so that together we can build a community for our children to thrive in, where they understand the scaffold of what it means to live a life beyond ourselves. God bring peace more than ever this Christmas, we are groaning in our own self-perpetuating cycles.

In the Name of Jesus

Amen.

Day 5: Prince of Heaven.

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: Arrival

Today marks twenty days until Christmas and I don’t know about you but I’m swamped. Christmas parties, festivals and catch ups are blossoming. As my diary swells, I can feel my stress levels rising no matter what I do. I try to breathe, yesterday morning we cancelled plans and had a morning at home but the expectations of others crowd the peace inside my mind.
In this season of celebration, there is also a thread of preparation that takes us all by surprise. Little awakenings of hope when we remember the arrival of a little baby in a manger.

The first two lines of this Christmas Carol from the album The Peace Project take my breath away.

Who is God that he would take our frame

The artisan inside the paint.

You see at this time of year we get so busy preparing for the celebration, but often we forget to get ready for the arrival.

There is a story in scripture about ten young women. They are waiting out in a field for their master to come. I can imagine them chatting with excitement at the pending visit from their visitor. Five of the women took lamps out to the field so they could see the master arriving. These five women, however, were a little unprepared because they took their lamps without oil. The other five not only brought their lamp out into the field but also oil so they could see their master arriving.

It was like they went camping and were waiting for their best friends to arrive with a torch but they forgot its batteries.

See Christmas is fun, it is laced with red, presents, sugar and friendship but what if we did all of this in vain. What if we stood there with the birthday cake, but ignored the person who we were celebrating.

All hail the arrival of our Maker

God embraced our frame

When he graced the world He created

Whether you believe in a child saviour or not, there is something profound about the mystery of this time of the year. It is not about presents and food, family and gatherings, it is about breathing in deep the possibility that each and every one of us was birthed with purpose.

If we take that purpose away, life becomes meaningless.

If we take away the reason for our celebration it becomes shallow.

Take a few minutes today to write a list of what you are grateful for this Christmas.

Take a moment to centre yourself in the midst of the mystery.

Take one day and switch off everything and dwell in the present.

These are the things that help prepare us for the arrival. These are the moments that bring peace and grace to our present.

Peace is waiting in the preparation of our hearts.

This Christmas I pray that you would find stolen moments to slow your tasks down to breathe in gratitude for the present. That friends and family would find you connected to them like never before. When crazy emotions roll and peoples expectations are unmet that we would take the time to be slow with our speech and let grace abound. As we prepare our hearts and lives for celebration, I pray that I can remember to acknowledge the arrival of Emmanuel.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

Day four: Arrival

Devotions inspired by The Peace Project.

Amanda Viviers

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.

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Christmas Devotional: When I Think Upon Christmas

Sourdough baking has been teaching me lessons lately that I had no idea I needed to learn. Each loaf that takes sometimes twenty-four hours to make, stretch, rise and prove.

You see in a perfect world, I would have a spotless kitchen with marble benches and storage for days. I would have music piping and cinnamon sticks brewing on the stove with mulled wine tempting me into its presence. I would be quiet and reflecting, stretching the dough and waiting for it to rise.

My reality however often never matches my expectations as I stretch the dough and leave it to rise, I come back to a sink piled with never-ceasing dishes. The washing pile calls my name and flour drifts across my freshly swept floors.

This time of year tempts us with expectations that everything will be perfect and sanitised. We watch movies with white snow drifting and babies snoring in handmade rugs. However, the reality of most of our lives is very different.

When you think of Christmas past, do you remember the piled dishes? Do you remember the moments of mess and unmet expectations? Probably not but maybe yes!

Christmas in its simplicity is a celebration of something that happened thousands of years ago. There is something about the years that softens the heartache and magnifies the unique.

The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” translates as  “old long ago”, which can be translated as ‘‘days that have gone by” or “back in the day”. Thomas Keith, a scholar, says

“the song symbolises reunion not parting, as some mistakenly believe.”

The song looks back over happy days from the past, separation, then coming back together.

When I Think Upon Christmas from The Peace Project album is a beautiful reminder that looking back and to remember is a great gift of perspective.

Sourdough baking each Sunday is helping me create time to sit in the midst of the present but bring the perspective from my past. As I stretch and sift, wait and prove it reminds me that each and every one of our stories have seasons of messiness and moments of victory.

Each Christmas I take the time from the craziness to sit and reflect on what has happened the year previously. For the last fourteen years, I have sat and reminded myself of how far I have come, creating a moment of proving and rest. Despite the messiness of the season and the awkwardness of pulling away in prayer and contemplation, each year I come to a place of reflection to gather my peace.

When was the last time you sat and reflected, allowing yourself to gain reverence for what has transpired?

Listen to the song above and breathe in deeply the beauty of reuniting with the past and stepping into the new.

This year I created a workbook that can be downloaded or bought as a book to help facilitate this kind of reflection. It is called New Days. When we take the time to release the past, it creates a proving place of rest and the thing I know about sourdough baking, even when I think it is not possible, it always rises again.

This Christmas, I pray that peace would reign in your hearts. I hope that you find time to rest and in that proving place, you would reunite the power of how far you have travelled. I ask that the pilgrimage of hope that we all walk upon, becomes ever present in your moments of waiting and that you would find the grace to be kind to yourself again. May beauty amidst the mess help you remember that perfection is never the goal and when we wait for Jesus, he will always lead us home.

Amen

Day 3: When I Think Upon Christmas

Amanda Viviers

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Christmas Devotional: Silent Night

It was the Christmas of snowmen melting in the midst of the searing Australian heat. I cried out from the middle of my sleepless night, please Lord give me rest. My son was all of three and my newborn was just discovering her voice and everything that I had dreamed of for Christmas seemed a distant memory.

We lived in a tiny beach flat, purposed for one maybe two but we squeezed four humans into a space reminiscent of a stable, humble for sure. The greatest prayer I had that Christmas was for sleep and the icing on the cake was silence.

The history of this hymn, “Silent Night” is one full of mystery and haltering tales of people gathering in humble places, with technology failing and the weather howling.

On Christmas Eve in 1818 a blizzard stranded the tiny village of Ogledorf
Nestled in the Austrian mountains. That same day the people of St. Nicholas’ church found their organ broken. So the priest and organist began composing a song that could be sung without. An organ yet beautiful enough to express their Christmas joy. All day and all night long they worked and at midnight the gentle carol Silent Night was born the pure clear tones echoed through the hills and the world has been captured by the beauty of that simple song ever since.

Kelly Clarkson

That Christmas in the midst of my novice motherhood haze, my three-year-old boy, became obsessed with a movie, that had no words. The plight of the flying snowman and his little dog became a daily habit in our little beach flat. Whilst this movie played and my son sat transfixed by the paintings and its orchestral soundtrack, it was like my prayer for peace and quiet had been delivered with a pocket of silence.

I didn’t realise how much I would long for silence as a Mum. Questions and crying, negotiations and demands, the ever consistent noise of family life overwhelm most days. And then carols like silent night come drifting into my December and I remember the power of contemplation coupled with hushed tones.

Psalm 46: 10 encourages my heart…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

To wait for that still moment, of meditation and quiet. Too long for space amidst the noise and carve our quiet contemplation in a world obsessed with greed and fame.

If you asked a mother of a newborn (aside from those smirky ones at the park trying to tell us their three-week-old has slept through the night) there is not much calm and peace.

I doubt that stable all those years ago was quiet either. I think sheep would have been complaining and horses conversing. I think doors would have been slamming and yes babies crying. Husbands and wives would have been fighting and innkeepers cooking.

Washing would have been whirring and the wind could have been howling. You see that place of silence had nothing to do with the external, but our internal condition that longs for peace and contemplation.

In the midst of the Christmas noise, this season surrender to the call of silence and see what is waiting for you there.

Silence is uncomfortable because it creates space for the questions to appear.

Silence is unnerving because it can show us that all our striving and competing is all but a whisper in the wind.

Silence is disheartening because we remember that which our heart aches for.

Silence is threatening because we remember our why in the midst of its wings.

Find Silence waiting for you this season, peace is waged in its hallways and hope is discovered in cul de sacs of contemplation.

This Christmas I pray that in the midst of the music, presents and celebration that silence beacons us towards the discomfort of its arms. May we find the answers that we have been seeking. May we discover the perspective that aches for release. Lord help us to surrender to the pain of not knowing and the overwhelming protection of your peace.

In the name of Jesus

Amen

Day two: Silent Night

Devotions inspired by The Peace Project.

Amanda Viviers

New Days, a vision workbook has just been released for download here. A tool to help you reflect, journal and envision at this time of year.