Advent Reflections

By Sarah Stell, Belle H Bennet Fellow

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

For a child has been born for us,

a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually,

and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom.

Luke 1:78-79, Isaiah 9:6-7

This week we will be lighting the second candle on the advent wreath–the candle of peace. We light this candle looking ahead to the future as we hope, pray, and cry out for peace to come to earth.  Many of us might feel like we are drowning in darkness–in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our families, and in ourselves. Some weeks we cannot muster up any semblance of peace.

Some days we are we are simply overwhelmed and bombarded by the weight of our world’s darkness.

When the cancer screening comes back positive,

When another marriage is haunted by infidelity and betrayal

When our parent, sister, friend, or child dies unexpectedly,

When another transgender teen is killed on the streets,

When a man walks into a women’s health center with a gun,

When a video is released of a white officer in Chicago shooting a young black man 16 times,

We cry out for peace on this earth.

Even in the midst of this present darkness, might we have the audacity to pray for peace throughout our wounded world. Often from a place of desperation and defeat, we hope for the day when love, compassion, healing, and peace engulf us all. The day when this earth is no longer plagued by violence, tyranny, hatred, divisions, and death. While we hope for a future where our world is ruled by peace, this hope must not be a far off utopia that we await. Peace is grounded in the present. Peace begins in the here-and-now, in our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In the midst of whatever darkness is weighing down on you, we invite you to come join us as we fight for peace in the midst of our brokenness. This upcoming week at Vespers and All That Jazz, we will light a candle reminding ourselves that even the smallest light can withstand the darkest shadows in this world. Come join us in Wightman Chapel this Sunday, December 13 from 6:30pm-7:15pm.


Sarah Stell is a 2015-16 Belle Harris Bennett Fellow. She graduated from Belmont University in Nashville in May 2015 with a major in Social Work. During her college career she studied abroad in the Middle East, served as an orphanage caretaker in Uganda, worked with women involved in the commercial sex industry, and was a social work intern at End Slavery Tennessee. She feels a calling to create space for the voices of the oppressed, engaging churches on issues regarding race, sexuality, power, and oppression.