The Bible has numerous stories of God’s call for the faithful who least expect it. Whether it is Zechariah, or the virgin Mary, the feeling referred to in that instance is fear. They are admonished not to be afraid. How does fear impair God’s action and presence in our lives? The message of the angel rings out – fear cannot abide with obedience to God’s invitation to trust. The first letter of John tells us that there is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear because fear implies punishment. One who fears is not yet perfect in love. It also tells us that we love because God first loved us – in becoming human like us – and whoever remains in love, remains in God and God in him. What fears do we need to cast out this Advent, so that God’s call may lead our lives?
The list-making app I have on my phone is cool. I’ve got lists for shopping, for doing stuff, for places to go and people to see. When I check something off it moves down to a sort of bin for items already taken care of, but I can move it back up onto the beckoning active list at any time.
At first I was discouraged because there were always items on some lists not checked off. I imagined I might have downloaded a disguised critic, sneaky like those offers that lure you to just click on the hotlink then secretly they store data about you in cyberspace.
However, in some quiet moments, I realized that critic-voice was in fact my own! Ah, a call to release the imagined detractor and accept the app’s help.
Out of my quiet time, my TO-DO, and my TO-NOT-DO lists made peace with each other.
“Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men.” Luke 2:14
While I was in Guatemala on a mission trip recently, I awoke one morning with the song from my 1st piano recital playing in my head, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…. with God as our Father, brothers all are we, Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony…” Though I hadn’t thought of the song in many years it was a gift from God to my heart that day.
These ideas of brotherhood with all men because of Christ and peace accomplished one relationship at a time have begun to be woven into my heart.
When the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth! Good will to men!” they were introducing Jesus. He is the embodiment of these! And as Christ dwells in our hearts through faith we too are the carriers of them.
In this Advent season, may our hearts be opened wide to receive and experience the presence of Christ, so that we along with Jesus can be bringers of glory to God, peace on earth, and good will to men.
Peace I leave you; My Peace I give to you. John 14:27
The gift of Peace was given to us by Jesus as He was preparing His followers to face life on earth without His physical body being present. It was a gift given to all of us who are His followers.
Peace in the scriptural sense is an English word translated from the Hebrew word Shalom. Shalom was a common greeting during Jesus’ time.
Christ entered the world as the Prince of Peace. During Advent, as I strive to become the person God intended me to be, Peace is one of the avenues I will follow. I will endeavor to share the gift of Peace with all whom I encounter. Shalom!
. . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Any the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Everyone in our bustling modern world seems to be looking for peace. Perhaps the idea of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7) appeals to many because they can’t even imagine a feeling of peace, much less the reality of a true peace. We long for a peace that our fallen world can’t even comprehend.
An unattributed quote made popular on the internet suggests that “peace is seeing a sunset and knowing who to thank.” That quote may have broad appeal because it implicitly addresses human longings which are so fundamental. God is knowable. God gives us good gifts. God is approachable enough that we can thank him for showing us his love.
This is a good time of year to remind ourselves that God made himself known to us… so we know who to thank. In that gratitude, we find peace.
How many times have we shared these calming words with those around us in our faith communities each week?
I know that Mary is struggling with a health matter to be resolved, John recently was laid off from his long time job, Doris lost her husband this year, and Michael is caring for his ailing mother. Jennifer is worried that her daughter isn’t going to be accepted at her desired university. Jack is concerned that he won’t be able to be at his son’s Christmas program due to work restraints.
What a gift we might give each other by reaching out in real time to offer our presence to listen, really listen to just one person not normally in our inner circle of family and friends. A gift of our time can be the most treasured gift of all. And it can help to bring a peace within us as well.
May the Peace of our Lord be with us in this Advent season and stay in our hearts and minds.