I love clear winter nights when I can get away from the city lights and gaze up into the heavens. You know those nights when the stars beyond the stars are so faint they appear as shimmering dust?

As a farm boy, I am always reminded of those shepherds in our Christmas Eve story. How many nights did they gaze up into the heavens waiting for the Messiah? They knew Isaiah’s prophecies of the One who would establish peace and justice. They had also heard the prophets admonish Israel to live into that vision through acts of charity and compassion.

How alike we are – the shepherds and me. I know the prophecy Incarnate in the words and deeds of Jesus. I have also heard Jesus’ unequivocal challenge not to sit idle but rather to be a peacemaker and pursue the justice for which we long in His name and power.

My Advent prayer is that one night during this season each of us will glance up at the sky and marvel at God’s creation as people have done for generations untold. In that moment of wonder, may the ancient yet always urgent hope for peace in our lives and our world fill our hearts to near bursting and inspire us to renewed and vigorous action.

Look up and see: who created these? God brings out the starry host by number; calls all of them by name. Because of God’s great power and might, not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

– Joe Walker