Thursday Morning – Between Hope and Peace

As a brief explanation to my readers: our lives, least of which my writing schedule have been entirely unscheduled over the last 3-4 days as we made arrangements to travel to the West Coast for my wife Nancy’s sister’s funeral. Added to that was my decision to get the third booter, which boosted me into chills, and aches and pains for 36 hours. But this morning I woke with peace, not only physically, but also spiritually to find this Thursday morning sunshine edition falling between the Sundays of hope and peace, and I chose our peace edition to share with you. I pray you will be blessed with the excellent articles by Pastor Janice Burnett and my friend Rob Keller, and that the amazing peace of Jesus will carry you through whatever you are facing this week. Sunshine Newsletter is a free devotional newsletter which is distributed in 8-9 long term care facilities in New York and Florida. Sunshine is produced by Pastor Janice Burnett who serves as a chaplain in Western New York, Rob Keller, my friend and our graphic artist and myself. To receive your free weekly pdf version simply send your request to Pastorpete51@gmail.com

Who Will You Tell? By Rob Keller

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. Luke 2:17-18 ESV

Did you make your own greeting cards? When I was in art school, I began designing and printing my own Christmas cards. Forty-some-odd years later, I continue that tradition. Looking back over the years, there are a select few that I am quite happy with, but I can see now that some of my designs were pretty awful. I always found it very difficult to come up with a truly original idea.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

It seemed like all of the words and images I could think of had been used a million times before. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I didn’t need to say something that had never been said before and the images used so often capture the essence of Christmas. It is not my job to reinvent the Christmas story, I am here to simply celebrate and share the good news of our Savior’s birth. The story of Christmas doesn’t need to be updated; it is timeless. It doesn’t need to be embellished. In its simplicity, it is majestic. The details of Jesus’ birth do not need to be defended against scoffers, that truth stands rock solid, without our help. There is nothing we can do to improve the Gospel. The power of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection has transformed countless lives over the centuries. The message of Christmas doesn’t need a makeover; it is a treasure to be passed, from generation to generation and from one heart to another. How will you pass it on this year? Who will you tell today?

Grace That Amazed!
As we put up our tree and on top place the star
That tells of the wise men and kings 
Who knelt and rejoiced in the stable that night
And gave their myrrh, Frankincense and gold rings
Take a moment to pray with a heart full of praise
For on Christmas there came 
A grace that amazed!

Grace that Amazed by Peter Caligiuri - Copyright 2019

Second Advent Sunday – Peace by Pastor Janice Burnett

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

A journey usually takes lot of preparation. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve gone to visit family members who live in another part of the country, there have been many things that I’ve needed to get ready for that trip. Or, maybe for you the preparation has not been for a visit, but for a move from one place to another. Whether you have lived in just one place or several, any move requires preparation, and that preparation can bring stress– both physical and mental. Now, whether we are going on a trip or moving, we should remember to give plenty of notice because surprises can be nice, but, not everyone likes them. Imagine just showing up and saying – “here we are! We hope you have room for us?!” Now imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph. Here they were – uninvited guests and one of them was a young lady about to give birth! Yikes!!! That’s exactly what it was like two thousand years ago when they arrived in Bethlehem. God had been telling the people of Israel ahead of time that their Savior would come.  They were watching and waiting for Him – but they had their own ideas how that would happen! In the meantime, they were not exactly getting along with each other or those who were their rulers. We call that lack of peace. And on the inside, they didn’t have peace. Most importantly they didn’t have peace with God. So, listen to how the angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 ESV

The peace that the angels spoke about is available to every person here on earth who puts their trust in God and that includes you and me! In the midst of trouble and the storms of life, we can have peace. As we experience sickness, separation from loved ones and questions about life, God assures us that His peace is available to us.

Prayer: Father God, in the middle of this world of chaos I thank you for loving us enough to send your Son Jesus who as Savior and our Prince of Peace!

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love Saint Francis



Peace Be Still!

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:38-38 ESV

Once my wife and I were invited to a get-together, at a house we had not been to before in an unfamiliar part of town. This was long before the days of GPS, so I started off listening carefully as my wife called out the directions that our friends had given. I turned left then right despite the fact that were getting increasingly further from town, I kept going, thinking that perhaps this was some sort of shortcut. Finally as we were instructed to turn onto a dirt road, I began to get an uneasy sensation in the bottom of my stomach that something was wrong. My concern was soon confirmed as we came around a sharp bend in the dirt road and it suddenly came to an end in the middle of a cow pasture!

We still laugh when we remember that day, but when more serious events of our lives begin to resemble getting lost in a cow field there is nothing funny about it at all. Events sometimes frightened us to the core. That is how those wet, weary disciples felt in the storm. They had obediently followed Jesus step by step, but the directions he had given seemed to have led them into a storm with no way out. They cried out thinking that Jesus was neither aware of or even cared about their situation. But Jesus did know and He did care both about their storm and ours. He has actually chosen this crazy situation that we are in to show us that He always knows and that He always cares. He has led us into this storm. As a nation a church, a family and an individual Jesus allows storms, so that we can learn to trust in Him – and when we fully trust, He calls out over the roar of the wind and waves, “Peace be still!” and a then great calm from heaven will come.

Being a Peacemaker

In the New Testament Jesus tells us that God blesses peace making people but Jesus never said it was easy. “Mom he’s picking on me!” Is one of the most common phrases around every family, (including ours) because it is easier to blame someone for our problems than to make peace with them. Sadly, jumping on the band wagon of pointing an accusing finger at people who are different than us at school or work ( or church) just feels so right. But today’s scripture warns us that God takes quite a different view. God says He loves it when we work to make peace and He offers us His friendship.

Instead of accusing others even if they are truly guilty, Jesus chose to begin the peace process by taking our guilt on Calvary. He died to bridge the friendship chasm between us and the Father, and He offers us His friendship whenever we are ready to make peace with Him.