First Lesson: Isaiah 40: 1-11
Responsive Reading: Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Second Lesson: 2 Peter 3: 8-15
Gospel Lesson: Mark 1: 1-8
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin this morning by telling a story about Grandma. Grandma tends to worry quite easily. Grandma, when she worries, tends to get quite dramatic. The main source of Grandma’s worries is her only daughter Carol who lives in California. If Grandma hasn’t heard from Carol for a few days, it’s not uncommon for her to call me up and to ask if I can fly to California to “claim the body.” Grandma has been making these calls to me since I’ve been about fourteen years old.
Perhaps the most dramatic tale of Grandma’s worry over Carol, took place when Carol was twelve years old in 1972. Carol was playing with her cousin Amy, no differently than other children do. On this day, Carol and Amy wondered away from the house, not uncommon for a pair of twelve-year-olds. Grandma hadn’t seen Carol and Amy for a couple of hours, not that uncommon. Well, Grandma and her cousin Bonnie Jean started to get worried. You see about a half-mile north of where Grandma lived at that time was the Anderson Family Farmstead. The Andersons had pigs outside that a person could see whenever they traveled by their place. These pigs were as normal as pigs can be. Now when Grandma couldn’t locate Carol in the pre-cell phone age, her conclusion was Farmer Anderson’s wild pigs must have eaten Carol and Amy. Grandma got on the phone and started calling her other children telling them how their sister had been eaten by wild pigs. Just as Grandma’s stress and worry reached a seeming breaking point, Carol and Amy came casually strolling through the door.
Now wild pig attacks might not be your greatest concern on this day, but worry is present in all our lives.
The Reverend Micheal Lindvall tells the following story. Priscilla Atterby worried every day of her life. Priscilla's worrying nature was such that she drove her children out of town. One child moved to California, Priscilla always called worrying about earthquakes. Another child moved to Chicago, Priscilla always called worrying about “crime” and “fire.” In school, Priscilla had heard of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Now Priscilla’s worrying got seemingly more intense with each passing year. Priscilla Atterby died at the age of 84. On the day of her funeral, the minister was reading from the 14th Chapter of John’s Gospel “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The minister looked down at Priscilla as he read these words. Priscilla’s whole life had been marked by stress, anxiety, and worry. Priscilla’s heart was continually troubled, yet as mourners peered into Priscilla’s casket on this day, they saw a different-looking Priscilla. Priscilla’s face seemed to be absent of worry lines. For the first time that people could remember, Priscilla Atterby looked to be at “peace.”
You see peace in this life can be a funny thing. Back to my Grandma, ever since I’ve known her, she’ll blow things out of proportion due to her worry. When the situation gets dire, when she is at a point that would stress other people, Grandma is as peaceful as can be.
Today we consider the meaning of peace within our own lives. On this day, we light the second candle of the Advent wreath known as either the Bethlehem Candle or the Peace Candle. This candle reminds us how a Savior shall soon be born in Bethlehem that shall bring peace as the world has never known.
The Prophet Isaiah several hundred years before Jesus’ birth proclaimed the following. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..”
On the occasion of Jesus’ birth, a heavenly choir began to sing.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased
Now peace for many people seems like a dream, they might live in war-torn nations, they might live the most broken of home lives, or they might be world class worriers like Priscilla Atterby.
Most of us long for peace in our lives, but yet it often seems quite difficult to find. Here’s the thing about peace, we live this life as broken people. We seem unable to piece our lives back together. But here’s the thing about Peace as pointed out by Methodist Bishop Kenneth Carter. “He is our peace. Peace is not a human achievement. Peace is a gift from God.”
Whereas peace might not be in our lives on this day like the Candle Advent reminds us that Christmas is not here, but soon coming, our Lord promises Peace will come soon into our lives.
Today’s scripture lesson tells us the tale of John the Baptist. Now John the Baptist is an interesting person. John the Baptist ate bugs. John the Baptist’s camel-hair clothing was so odd that the scriptures feel necessary to mention it. John the Baptist lived far away from people, living way out in the wilderness. John the Baptist was so different they people flocked to see him. People walked miles and miles to hear him. John the Baptist’s message was simple “prepare,” prepare because you will soon meet “One whose sandals he was worthy to untie.” One who was not going to baptize with mere water, but baptize instead with The Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the reason that John the Baptist stood out so much from the crowd was that John the Baptist was at peace. John the Baptist’s judgments about what was worth worrying about were so different from everyone else. John the Baptist because of this refused to change, even as it would eventually cost him his life. John the Baptist above all believed that peace would not come via human diplomacy, but peace will only come via the presence of a savior.
Now as we hear the story of John the Baptist, we might wonder what might peace look like within our own lives? To illustrate this let me close with two different stories.
The year was 1948; three men robbed a bank in Hoyt, Kansas. They ended up taking about $1000. One of these men was Al Johnson. The police had no leads and years passed with the case being closed. Al Johnson was seemingly in the clear; only he wasn’t.
In the years afterward, Al Johnson got married to a devout Christian woman. Every day after the robbery, Al Johnson’s conscience spoke to him. Al Johnson began praying about it. Al Johnson had never had a day of peace since the robbery had taken place. So four years later, Al Johnson gets in the pulpit at the Seward Avenue Baptist Church to repent that he was the bank-robber.
You see Al had recently gone before the District Attorney to confess; he had even taken out a bank loan to begin the process of paying back the stolen $1000. Johnson or his co-conspirators were not charged though due to the statute of limitations. For the first time in years, Al Johnson was at peace. Al Johnson’s life was different every day moving forward because of that peace. Al Johnson spent his remaining days as a devoted father and a prominent Christian layman within the community.
What Al Johnson’s story reminds us is no matter how dark your previous days have been, our Savior can bring you peace.
Final story for this morning, once upon a time a woman was caught in a terrifying storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, she began to gather all the children on board of the ship. To keep her and the children from panicking, she kept telling the children Bible stories about God’s people overcoming adversity: Moses and the Egyptians, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the fiery furnace. The ship’s captain during the voyage had observed this woman. Like John the Baptist, she was different due to her temperament. She seemed calm as could be, regardless of the weather conditions around them. So after the ship reaches the dock, the captain approaches the woman then asks “How were you able to maintain your calm when everyone feared this ship would sink?”
The woman began to explain “I have two daughters.” “One of them lived in New York” and “One of them lives in heaven.” I knew I would be seeing one of my daughters within the next few hours, and it didn’t matter which one.” This woman was at peace regardless of the outcome of any storm her life could throw at her.
You see peace in life is a funny thing. No matter how fast technology advances, it doesn’t guarantee it. We all have our own wild pigs whose encounter we dread and fear. What our Savior and Prince of Peace tells us on this second Sunday of Advent is just as we soon experience Christmas, one day we will also experience peace.
(Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Amen
 Lindvall, Micheal. The Good News from North Haven: A Year in the Life of a Small Town. The following is from a short story called “Merciful Snow.” 1991. Pages 26-33. The following story was found on Leon Stier’s Email Mediations entitled “Peace at Last” published on Feburary 9th, 2015 and accessed on November 28th, 2015.
 Lindvall, Micheal. The Good News from North Haven: A Year in the Life of a Small Town. Pages 26-33.
 John 14:27.
 Lindvall, Micheal. The Good News from North Haven: A Year in the Life of a Small Town. Pages 26-33
 Isaiah 9:6.
 Luke 2:14.
 Carter, Kenneth. “Our Patience, God’s Peace.” Day 1. 07.Dec.2008. Web. Nov.28.2017.
 Carter, Kenneth. “Our Patience, God’s Peace.”
 Mark 1:1-8.
 Markquart. Edward. “A Parable: The City and The Wilderness.” Sermons from Seattle. Advent2. Series B. Web. Nov.28.2017.
 Mark 1:7
 Mark 1:8.
 Chappell, Pastor Paul. “Confessing a Bank Robbery.” Ministry 127. Web. Nov.29.2013. Taken from May 5, 1952 edition of Lewiston Evening Journal.
 Kairos Christian Community of Lilongwe, Malawi Facebook page published on 16.June.2012. Web. Nov.29.2017.
 Zingale, Tim. “Turning Around.” Sermon Central. 28.Nov.2005. Web. Nov.28.2017.
 Stier, Leon. “Calm in a storm.” Email Mediations. 25. Apr.2013. Web. Nov.28.2013. Adapted from Surprise Endings written by Ron Mehl published by Multnomah Publishers in 1995.
 Stier, Leon. “Calm in a storm.”
 Stier, Leon. “Calm in a storm.”
 Stier, Leon. “Calm in a storm.”
 John 16:33.