An Advent of Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love: Volume 2

Peace: December 7 – December 13, 2020

This devotional contains reflections, artwork, and prayers for a portion of the Advent season created by the members and friends of Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i. Advent is a season of preparation and of expectation, an awareness of what has already happened and what is still to come. May these devotional offerings help you find the hope, peace, joy, and love of God within your soul.

Monday, December 7

The plumeria flower lives in peace with the rain.


Tuesday, December 8

2 Corinthians 13:11
Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace: and the God of love and peace will be with you.  

PEACE can be defined as a time when law and order reign for all. As long as I have been alive, and through history this peace has not been achieved. This kind of peace is when there is no fighting, everyone is working together in harmony, a utopian existence. Hoping for this kind of peace may be fruitless.

But, peace can also be when there is quiet and a calm, restful feeling prevails. This may be something that we can all work toward for oneself and for those around you. With this feeling of peace, one can focus on meeting the needs of others, too, where no one is looking for power or greed to prevail over others. This kind of peace is what I feel we can work for together!

Anne Sadayasu

Wednesday, December 9

Malachi 2:17
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

“Where is the God of justice?” seems like a good question to me. I have a little list – more like a long little list – of Things That Should Be Better Than They Are. Some of them are trivial. Some of them are personal. Some of them would make a big difference around the world. Each of these Things That Should Be Better have me regularly asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi warns, however, that God is weary of hearing this question. Why would that be so? Perhaps, I think, because God is weary of the question being asked by people who aren’t doing anything to bring justice to the world.

The peace that will weary neither God nor us is the peace that narrows the gap between rich and poor, the peace that feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless, the peace that rewards hard work with a living wage, the peace that is founded in justice.


O God, let us not weary you with prayers for justice. Let us work to shape it in our world, and then offer you prayers of thanks. Amen.


Thursday, December 10

When all foam figures shall live together in peace…

Mikael Leung, age 7

Friday, December 11

Psalm 126:4-5
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
    reap with shouts of joy.

Oddly enough, Psalm 126 begins with an account of rejoicing “when the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion.” After three verses, however, the ancient poet turned to lament and petition. What had happened?

We can’t entirely know – the authors of these ancient hymns didn’t include commentary about the inspiration for their songs – but it seems likely that the delivered nation had experienced hardship again. This probably surprises none of us. We have each of us undergone times of great success and times of deep stress. 2020 has brought deeper stress, more widespread suffering, for longer periods of time than most years of our lives. The strains, however, are… familiar. We’ve known something like this – if not this extensive – before.

The Psalmist observed that the heights of comfort can be followed by the depths of distress. So we have known. So we have found. The Psalmist also did not fear to raise a prayer of lament and a prayer of petition: “Restore our fortunes, O LORD!”

So do all pray who live through such times. In such prayers we find a path toward our souls’ peace.


Restore our fortunes, O God, like the watercourses of the Negeb. Refresh our thirsty spirits to endure the hardships, and give us grace to once more breathe in ease, and raise our songs together in joy. Amen.


Saturday, December 12

Habakkuk 3:17-18
Though the fig tree does not blossom,
    and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails,
    and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold,
    and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will exult in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk knew hard times. How did he find peace in his soul?

We don’t know much about him beyond what is in the book that bears his name. It suggests he lived in the days when the Babylonians brought an end to the independent Jewish kingdom of Judah. Those were hard times indeed. Habakkuk had some hard things to say about them.

But we do know how he found peace in his soul.

First, he argued with God about all the wrongs he saw around him, even sounding impatient at God’s delayed response. Arguing with God sounds bad, but I don’t think it is. When you argue with someone you remain engaged, you maintain the relationship, at least until the argument gets too hot.

In addition, Habakkuk didn’t remain there. In that conversation with God he also found words to pass on to his contemporaries, a stark critique of the morals of his nation. I’m afraid it didn’t change much, but he acted in faithfulness.

Finally, he prayed this prayer: “Though the fig tree does not blossom…, I will exult in the God of my salvation.” He held on to his faith through the argument, through the sharing, and through this last song of commitment. This song would be played “with stringed instruments” as others sought to reassure their souls, too.


Answer us when we call, O God, even if we come with arguments and complaints. Give us your word, O God, to share with the people. May we always exult in you, the God of our salvation. Amen.


Sunday, December 13: Joy

Luke 1:46b-47
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…

Mary’s Song, the Magnificat, is one of my favorite pieces of Scripture.

She found inspiration in her own situation, of course: the promises of angels and the affirmation of her cousin Elizabeth. She also recalled the Psalms of praise she no doubt sang in the synagogue, as well as the Song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2. Like Hannah of old, she gave thanks for the particular thing God had done for her – making her the mother of the Messiah – and let her song take flight to give thanks for other acts of God. She named mercy, justice, compassion, and faithfulness as the central characteristics of the Divine Heart.

Both Mary and Hannah had cause to make that leap. Their children did amazing things, one as a prophet, the other as Messiah (I grant you there is quite a difference there). They could not have known that as they sang their songs. They could hope for it, believe in it, have faith in it, but they could not know what had not yet come to be. Anticipate, yes, but experience and anticipation are not the same thing.

Can we do what they did? Can we hear the promises of God, trust them, and magnify them so that we rejoice not only in what God has done for us, but also in the many things God has done for everyone?

Can our souls magnify the Lord, and our spirits rejoice in God our savior?


Church of the Holy Cross
United Church of Christ
440 W. Lanikaula St.
Hilo, HI 96720

Categories Community, Events | Tags: | Posted on December 4, 2020

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