WHAT IS PEACE?
Sunday, December 4th
(Each day this week, we will be focusing on the difference Peace makes in our lives.)
If you have an Advent wreath, you may wish to light the first candle as the candle of HOPE, and the second candle as the candle of PEACE.
We begin this week of Peace with a few definitions from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
The definition of PEACE includes:
~ freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
This aspect of peace relates to our peace of mind. I can generally find this peace each night before bedtime, when I simply thank God for the day and all that it held. I gratefully release the day’s blessings and challenges, placing my worries and thoughts into God’s care. My prayerful practice serves as a closing benediction, and I sense God’s peace covering me for the night.
~ a state of tranquility or quiet
In this description I think of the peace for our bodies and souls. This peace envelops me when I relax in the recliner and lift my feet after a busy afternoon. Peace brings rest and restoration to my body and soul when I sit quietly on our porch and take in the beauty of God’s creation. Peace comes as respite from the day when I sip hot tea and read a good book. I feel a harboring peace when Jim and I pray in the early morning hours before going on with our day.
~ harmony in personal relations
This definition of peace refers to our peace with and among others. I notice this peace in my relationships when I am able to listen well, open myself to deeper understanding, forgive any hurts, honestly confess my shortcomings, or vulnerably share my love. Peace comes when I set aside such tendencies as vying for attention, pointing out grievances, or controlling a conversation. Relationships can bring great peace when they are based on mutual friendship, encouragement, and respect.
Advent Peace is a gift for our minds, our bodies, our souls, our relationships – for every aspect of our being! As we continue Mary’s story, we see how God in Christ has come to give us that Advent Peace.
The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:35-38 NRSVUE)
As we move from our week of Advent Hope into Advent Peace, I first notice this difference: we cling to Hope, but we let go for Peace! We observe Mary letting go as she receives more details about her pregnancy and the holy child she will carry. Mary responds, “Here am I… a servant… let it be…” She gives herself to God, surrenders her plans, recognizes her servanthood, and fully accepts God’s word for her life.
We can sense how Mary’s Advent Peace would be found in the angel’s promise that “nothing will be impossible with God.” Advent Peace enters Mary’s mind, soul, and body through the Holy Spirit coming upon her, the power of God overshadowing her. Advent Peace also comes to Mary in relationship – as she learns of Elizabeth’s companionship in their shared pregnancies.
Mary can let go – because she is being held! In this, she finds her peace.
And so can we.
Mary’s story is yet another story for all of us.
Our Advent Peace will also come to us each time we can let go of our worries and fears and entrust them to God… when we can surrender ourselves and our plans into God’s better plans and purposes… when we can release our need for control and trust that God in Christ is always with us, God’s power is overshadowing us, and through our caring relationships, God will help us.
With every surrender, every release, we give God the opportunity to fill us with all the grace and goodness of God’s Peace.
Advent Peace makes the better difference in the living of our days.