Advent Three – Week of December 12

The Word

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


“Peaceable Kingdom,” c. 1834, Edward Hicks (1780–1849). National Gallery of Art, Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch.

I don’t know about you, but this past year has felt anything but peaceful. Many of us continue to face rocky waters even as we might glimpse that ever-so-desired light at the end of the tunnel. Storms and natural disasters physically and emotionally shake our world. Global pandemic still overwhelms us. Fear and violence are ever present in our society. With these troubles in mind, one might wonder how it is that we could feel any Peace. Indeed, on the surface, it would seem much more realistic to be consumed by worry or at worst, feel totally out of control.

But Paul tells us that we ought not to worry about anything, for God’s Peace will guard our hearts and minds. As someone who likes to be in control, this is a challenging statement for me. I have particular trouble letting go, and even more trouble finding Peace about it. In my search for that deep Peace over the last few years, however, I have often turned to God with this simple breath prayer, particularly in moments of deep spiritual turmoil: 

(Breathe in) God, I give you my mind, body, and spirit…  

(Breathe out) …for Peace and healing.

Sometimes, I will repeat this prayer over and over for several minutes. The more those words become connected with my breath, the more I feel the Peace of the Holy Spirit settling in on my heart. In a sense, I feel like I am breathing in God’s Peace. 

You might find yourself skeptical of the power of prayer when things seem so out of control. As we prepare for the Birth of Christ, brothers and sisters, I encourage you to find ways of experiencing God’s Peace, in both moments of turmoil and moments of tranquility. 

Paul calls us to pray with supplication and thanksgiving. 

What does that prayer look like for you? 

How does God bring you to experience Peace amidst the chaos? 

How can we share that Peace with others, whether it be Passing of the Peace in a service or passing by someone on the street? 

Peace of Christ, to all! May the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, today and always. Amen.


Meditation on “Veni Emmanuel” – John Scriveyner

These familiar words from scripture inspired Baroque composer George Frederick Handel to include them in his oratorio, Messiah. Oratorios are musical compositions for choirs, soloists, and orchestras. Most

The hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (tune: VENI EMMANUEL) gives us a joyous way to conclude our season of Advent. Historically, the western church has used the Great “O Antiphons” as a part of prayers services during the final seven days of the season. They are referred to as the “O Antiphons” because the title of each one begins with the vocative particle “O”. Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

In today’s recording, Yeri So has prepared a beautiful chorale prelude on this beloved tune. You will notice her hands using the upper keyboard (swell) of the Westminster Organ. This keyboard is used for expressive playing. The pipes are located in a chamber to the left of the choir. Behind the silver fabric are a series of ‘shades.’ These open and close (as directed by the organist) to allow more or less sound from the chamber into the Sanctuary. Throughout the chorale prelude, the shades are open, save the final chord. If you listen closely, you can hear a faint squeak as Yeri closes the shade to make the sound fade.


Third Sunday of Advent—the Candle of Joy

The children and youth of Westminster were asked to talk about the word joy. This is their response:


Dear Lord, thank you for giving us joy. Help us to give joy to others, especially to those who need it more than we do.


Send a Christmas Card to Spirit Lake

Since 2001, Westminster has maintained a relationship with the Bdecan Presbyterian Church on Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota. As part of that relationship, we have sent mission teams, conducted Vacation Bible School, and helped support Bdecan’s food pantry and clothing closet. We also provide scholarship funds to students attending the Candeska Cikana Community College, a tribal college located on the reservation. 

This has been a challenging year for the Bdecan church, with the death of longtime members and medical challenges facing the ministry’s program coordinators, Rosie and Bob Helland. Please consider sending our sisters and brothers at Bdecan a Christmas card or greeting, and identify yourself as being from Westminster when you do. Their address is: PO Box 141 Tokio, ND 58379.