Connections 12.04.2022: Seeking Peace

Romans 15:4-13

There are several different ways to “name” the four traditional weeks of Advent as we move closer to the celebration of Jesus’s birth. The most familiar is probably the quartet of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. My brain loves a good theme, and in this season, without even trying, I tend to pick up the threads of Advent in every reading, every song, every experience. At this time of year, I see threads of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love everywhere.

This month’s lessons in Connections do not cover the Scriptures we might expect from the Gospels during this season; instead, we observe Advent as we learn from the Apostle Paul and the early church. Even before the tradition of the four Advent Sundays was a “thing,” Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love were part of the life of the community of Christians in Rome. They find hope in the scriptures (v. 4), in Jesus “the root of Jesse” (v. 12), and “by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v. 13). They answer the call to “Rejoice” and “Praise the Lord” (vv. 10-11). The Apostle Paul doesn’t say the word love, but I see love in the “steadfastness and encouragement” (vv. 4-5) that the people receive from God and share with one another.

Hope, Joy, and Love are all present and active in the life of the congregation in Rome. But in this second week of Advent, the presence of Peace is our focal point, and it too threads through this text. I see Peace in the way the people are “living in harmony with one another” (v. 5) and glorifying God “in one voice” (v. 6). It is in the way the people “welcome one another… just as Christ has welcomed you” (v. 7) and it is even in their very act of believing (v. 13).

In this time in history, in our own modern world, war and anger and violence and hate seem to be everywhere—just as, perhaps, they have always been. The presence of Peace feels more like hide-and-seek than a fulfilled promise or a joyful hope. Peace raises more questions than it answers—perhaps it always has. How do we live in harmony with people who insist upon hate? How do we demand peace from politicians (and pastors!) who relentlessly stoke anger and then post “thoughts and prayers” when inevitable violence follows? How can we practice unity toward those with whom we never interact, with whom we do not agree, with whom we cannot relate?

I don’t know the answers. I don’t know if there are answers. But I know we must keep seeking the thread of Peace everywhere, especially when it seems most hidden. I know we must keep believing in the God of hope, so that we can continue to believe in the possibility of peace with one another.


  • Advent is a time of expectation as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and it is also a time of yearning as we await Jesus’s return and the fullness of God’s Kingdom. How are you experiencing Hope, Joy, Love, and especially Peace during this season? Where are you searching for these Advent threads?
  • How are you yearning for Peace that is not yet present in your life, your family, your church, or our world?
  • Examine this week’s Scripture carefully, looking for the threads of peace. How does Paul encourage the church at Rome to experience and express peace? What does peace have to do with harmony, unity, and welcoming one another? How did Jesus model all these? How do we emulate his example in our churches and communities (or do we?)?
  • Romans 15:13 relates peace to belief; Paul prays that God may “fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope.” How do you experience peace in your believing? We all have times of questioning and doubting and even stepping away from belief; how do you hold on to peace even when you struggle to believe?
  • Paul also relates peace to hope. How does pursuing peace—in your own heart, and in the world around you—help you to “abound in hope”?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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