Epic Theology

Finding God through the lens of an artist



Themes of Advent: Peace

Hey folks,

Tomorrow starts the second weekend of Advent.For those unfamiliar with the tradition, Advent is a season of anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ. Just as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation, the birth of baby Jesus, on Christmas, so we also turn our hearts, minds, and spirits towards His Second Coming. We look back in remembrance and forward in hope. Each of the four weeks leading up to Christmas carries a different theme, and today we’re going to look at the second one: Peace.

Peace at Christmas. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Maybe after the presents have been bought, the parties have been attended, the pageant costumes have been sewn, and the cookies have been baked, decorated, and packed in their cute little tins. Maybe then we can have some peace. As long as everyone likes their presents.

Does this sound like your Advent? Crazy busy with activity? Maybe it’s because you love all of it, or maybe it’s because it’s what’s expected of you. Either way, peace seems like a distant memory.

Besides, it’s cold at Christmas. It’s far more peaceful in the summer, with the barbecue fired up and a cold drink in your hand and no one asking for anything but a grilled hotdog.

Yet, in the Isaiah passage we looked at last week, the Messiah to come was to be the Prince of Peace. Should our primary cultural celebration of the Prince of Peace really be so chaotic?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I love all of the activities surrounding Christmas and Advent. I love parties and I love cookies and I love caroling. I love decorating our house and lighting the Advent wreath. I love writing to all of you about the wonder that can be found throughout December. It keeps me busy.


However, there are times that my family and I need to take a step back from all the planning to make sure that we have enough time to really soak in the majesty of it all. It can become so easy to rush past the Christmas lights that we forget to marvel at the beauty of coloured lights in the darkness.

So, what can we do? Should we stop attending parties? Maybe. If they are causing you stress and not allowing you to build into your friends and family, then perhaps declining a couple invites will make all the difference in the world. Remember, we are to be agents of peace in this world. If we spread ourselves too thin, if we take on too much in the name of “holiday spirit,” then we cease to live out our calling.

Maybe this week, we can take a few minutes to think about ways we can first find peace in our own lives. This might be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to remember Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and why He came down to earth. From this starting point of peace, the activities we have during the day can become acts of worship and wonder rather than hectic to-do lists.

After we up our own peace quotient, the next step is to pass that peace on to others. This week, I would love to see dozens of random acts of peace. Whether that’s shoveling your neighbour’s driveway so they don’t have to worry about it, or bringing a meal to a family with a new baby, seek out someone who could use a little more peace in their lives. Simple acts can be so effective.

Now, take a deep breath. Let it out. Take another one. Think about how much God loves you, and how much He wants peace for your life. Let it out. Keep breathing, and find something peaceful to do today.


A Slow Cup of Wisdom

For those who know me, this will come as no surprise, but I love a good cup of tea. Much of my family is from Scotland, and I spent a lot of my childhood with my Nana. Tea was always served (and it was always Tetley). Since then, I’ve grown to appreciate herbal teas, green teas, and recently, rooibos teas. This has been made even easier since my wife began selling tea with Steeped Tea last summer, since we always have plentiful stocks of great loose leaf tea around.800px-Nice_Cup_of_Tea

In our fast-paced, 21st Century Western world, we need everything fast. Our internet, our transit, our phone calls, and our food. Coffee shops have timers to ensure that everyone is served as quickly as possible. We rail against a webpage taking more than a second to load. Rush hour traffic is the closest we get to experiencing the darkest depths of hell.

Why? Because we have things to do! Our increasing globalization has given us access to so many of the world’s treasures to experience. Social media has enabled us to maintain friendships with hundreds of people all around the world. We have practices to get to, shows to see, workouts to do, and work to get done. It can all be great things, but they build up quickly.

In addition, we’ve made an idol of being busy. We consider people who only work 9-5 and have maybe one or two other routine engagements a week to be lazy. We consider it a great accomplishment to have fit an entire day, perhaps 16-18 hours of activities into one calendar date. Those people who can excel at this kind of life get to soar to the top of their passions, and those who don’t are ‘doomed’ to a life of mediocrity.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and I argue, in fact,  that it shouldn’t be like this.

Rest is an important part of life.

We see this everywhere. Fields need time to rest and recover nutrients, so allowing fields to lie fallow is important to farming. The seasons show us the importance of rest by giving one quarter of the year (or perhaps FAR more for us Northern brothers and sister) to winter, when the world sleeps. Even our daily circadian  rhythm asks that we have periods of action and periods of rest each day.

In the Bible, rest is vital to our spiritual lives, built into the very Ten Commandments. We are to “Remember and keep holy the Sabbath Day.” It is important enough to God that he placed it with the other heavy hitters of moral instruction like having one God and not murdering each other. Jesus also models rest throughout His ministry. He took time away from the crowds to recharge and meet with the Father. Perhaps we should take note.

Which brings me back to tea. For me, it can be an almost spiritual exercise to make a cup of tea. Clean, fresh water is where everything starts. I try to use just enough for what is needed (depending on how many people I’m making tea for). While the water starts to heat up, I take out whichever tea I’m going to enjoy and measure it into a teapot. Again, it should be just big enough for the tea required, no sense making more tea than you’re going to drink. Bigger is not always better. Then, we wait.

Yes, we wait. I mean, you can go off and do something else while the kettle boils, but maybe taking a few minutes just to wait for a kettle can give us the time to slow down and take a few breaths. We can’t hurry the kettle, so we wait (and don’t even think about using a microwave, that ruins the whole thing…and makes sub-par tea…go ahead if you want to, just know that your tea is going to be less-than-awesome).

When the water finally starts to boil, I pour it into the teapot. If we’re having green or white tea, I’ll pull it off just before, because water that is too hot will damage the flavour of the tea. But generally, I drink black tea, so a proper boil is where it’s at. Then, we wait again.

Yes, again.

It takes 3-5 minutes to properly steep a black tea. I may take that time to put milk and sugar into my mug, but that should be it. This is more time to just chill out and enjoy the smell of beautiful tea wafting out of your teapot. Do it, just smell that tea!

Then, once I’ve let the tea steep, I pour it into my mug, and more waiting happens. Freshly poured tea is usually far too hot for me to drink right away, so we wait for it to cool down a bit.

In the end, making tea is probably a 15-20 minute ritual. At our newly proposed minimum wages, that’s $5 of time spent making and waiting for tea. But I suggest that maybe that’s time that is well spent. Maybe if we take more time to enjoy little daily rituals, or even better, the time it takes to create real works of art, then we can move away from a mentality of ‘quicker, faster, cheaper.’ We can begin to enjoy real beauty and see the world as it really is, a portrait of God’s creativity. It’s not a whirlwind of blended colours and shapes that we glance at out our car window. It’s more than that. And maybe tea can show us.


Blog at

Up ↑