The Second Sunday of Advent is Peace. Now, it should be noted that there are many variations of Advent, in that there are a variety of themes which are represented each Sunday. I have just chosen four of those themes.
Peace is symbolized by the Nativity. Anyone that has given birth knows that the actual birth of Christ was probably anything but peaceful, but the images that follow invoke contentment in one’s soul. Joseph stands watch over mother and child among the animals sharing their humble abode. They represent the antithesis of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve in the middle of a hustling bustling city full of traffic, lights and other such pleasantries.
The Nativity represents the Christ’s family. I think this is a beautiful image. Many see power as independent, strong and confident. Instead, God emphasized the need for family. And through this family, he sent a baby to bring peace to the World. I found this concept especially interesting this week as we “remembered”. How do you explain Remembrance Day to a 3 year old. “We are honouring these men who fought for peace.” Do you see the problem here. I opted out of this explanation and instead said that we were honouring the peacemakers. Jesus, is the Prince of Peace and he said, blessed are the peacemakers – those who make peace in our world, our homes, and our hearts.
One person who sought to bring peace was Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas was born in the third century in a village called Patara. Presently, this village would have rested on the southern coast of Turkey. He was the son of devout Christians who were very wealthy. When they died in an epidemic, while St. Nicholas was quite young, they left him a hefty inheritance. Nicholas then, in obedience to scripture, sold all that he had and gave the money to the poor. He was dedicated to serving God and became known for his generosity and his love for children. He was named the Bishop of Myra, while quite young, however was exiled and imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was known for his persecution of Christians. After he was released he attended the Council of Nicaea and later died in AD 343 on December 6th.
From this account, many stories were created and told. There is little evidence as to what is true or not, however the spirit of St. Nicholas was birthed from his devotion to God and is an example of generosity and peacemaking. You can read more about St. Nick below.
Instead of decorating a gingerbread season this year, create your own nativity. It can be made out of a gingerbread type cookie, cardboard, or even wood. Shredded wheat makes a great roof! Then each day of advent, instead of buying a cardboard advent calendar filled with cheap chocolate, put one more piece of your advent scene in its place. A sheep, followed by a cow, followed by some shepherds, angels, Wiseman, Mary, Joseph and finally the baby Jesus on Christmas morning.
Here in Three Hills, our Church puts on something called Bethlehem walk. We convert an old warehouse into the town of Bethlehem which you can walk through and experience with all your senses. This is a great family activity to walk through the story of the Nativity. Most cities have something similar, like a live nativity. In Calgary, try out the Nativity Pageant which is right outside of Heritage Park.
I also found out that Thriving Families is putting out Advent readings this year. They are readings that will take you through the season of Advent. I encourage you to check them out.
And lastly, on a side note, I have been on the lookout for an Advent Calendar that I can use over and over, and can choose what surprises are behind each door. I finally found one…..at superstore.