This past week we continued in the Advent journey, eagerly expecting the “coming” of Christ. This week, as we lit the Bethlehem candle (the second Advent candle), we focused on “peace.” As I thought about peace this week, I realized how complicated and difficult that word and idea can be. In a world where on any given day you can turn on the news and hear of war, terrorism, social unrest, political fighting, starvation, poverty and so much more, how can we turn our hearts towards “peace?” I began to pray, “God, show us the peace you want us to have this time of year.”
This week, I shared a story about how I made peace with my dad and how that little bit of personal peace can change everything. I had been praying for years to find some peace from a deeply seated grudge and when God finally gave me the peace I had been praying for, the ripple effect in my life was palpable.
Psalm 85:8 says, “Let me hear what the Lord God says, Because he speaks peace to his people and to his faithful ones.” This passage tells us two things about peace: 1. That is comes from God, we can’t make peace on our own. “HE speaks peace,” the verse says. 2. We have to actively turn ourselves to hear what peace God is trying to give us. If we know that God is the one who speaks peace, we know that his promises never fail, we can count on the peace to come. The variable that might change is whether or not we “hear,” as the verse says, the peace God is speaking.
This week as you hear the news of how un-peaceful the world around us is and as we enter this often chaotic Christmas season, take time to listen to the peace God is trying to give you. In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” This week, hear God’s peace that is freely given.
Hear this prayer from St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
O God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace.
Let the design of your great love shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, and give peace to your Church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.