Advent 2018, Week 2: Proclamation (Peace)

Artist: Paul Woelfel (Nigeria)

Artist: Paul Woelfel (Nigeria)

Written by Breona Hawkins

As a little girl growing up in the church there are very distinct things that I remember hearing at a young age that took me well into my adult years to somewhat understand. One of those many things that I lacked understanding were the songs and messages of peace that I heard from the pastor in the pulpitand the choir on a Sunday morning. If you grew up in church like I did, and specifically a Black church, then you know that there were a lot of things we grew up hearing that made absolutely no sense even when one of our more seasoned saints tried to explain it in layman’s terms. They would say,“Just keep on living. One day you’ll understand.” And to this day, I am striving to keep on living so that I can understand.

One song I recall singing as child growing up in church was ‘Victory Shall be Mine.’ A spiritual that had been passed down throughout the existence of Black people in this country. I never truly understood what the words meant “If I hold my peace and let the Lord fight my battles. Victory, victory shall be mine.” Even now, that I am older and bit more mature in my walk with God I have still have very little understanding as to what my ancestors were proclaiming in their songs of testimony. My twenty something year old mind still cannot wrap my head or heart around the true meaning of peace, especially living in this current political climate. I think it’s because I am still learning how to truly and wholly depend on God and His promises in times of crisis. And as I reflect, I am struggling to truly and wholly depend on God in the society in which I live. The things that I see tend to overshadow the promises that God has made to His people.

Once in a while I ponder on what it truly means to have peace. Especially, knowing the ugly but true history of this nation. However, we know that in the bible, God has promised to care for His people. However, everything around us says the opposite. In the midst of our struggle and warring of what we see and what we know to be true, we can look to Mary. The young woman who was visited by an angel of God who told her that she had been chosen to carry and give birth to the coming king.

During the time of Mary, she lived in an oppressive society. A society that was oppressive to women, children, the widows, the poor, the foreigner and anyone who did not fit into the box of what it meant to be superior. Mary, at a very young age had an encounter with God that would change the trajectory of her life. In Luke 1:26-45, the angel Gabriel visits Mary with the greeting, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.” The angel Gabriel then goes on to tell Mary not to be afraid for God is with her. Accordingly, he continues to tell her that God has favored her and chosen her to have a son. Not just any son, but the Messiah; the promised king! After, Mary goes to her secret place and worships God for what He had begun to do in her life. She sings,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

-Luke 1:46-55

I am convinced that Mary, like us was human and had doubts when considering the political state of the land in which she lived. However, I do believe that Mary deep down held steadfast to the prophetic words that had been spoken for years to come over the earth; the Messiah. Those words created peace within her soul. The kind of peace that reminded her of the sovereignty and promises of God. The peace that gave her hope despite the corrupt politics of the land. The peace that was a reminder that the King would end all wars and unholy elitism. Today, we are still longing and hoping for that peace; peace that surpasses all understand and is the uncounted calmness that only God can give.

Song: Peace Be Still, Perfect Peace, Victory Shall Be Mine

Recommended scriptures: Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1: 26-56; Philippians 4:7

Breona is currently a grad student working on a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Divinity with hopes of bringing both of her passions together to impact the world.

Women, Justice, AdventRuthie Vincill