In this second week of Advent, I am searching for peace. I feel a little like the prophet Jeremiah who said, ”They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:1)
Indeed, how difficult it is to embody a sense of peace when we look around us only to see yet another school shooting, yet another Covid variant (Omicron), yet another tragic example of police brutality, yet another child abused . . . and more, one after another un-peaceful thing in our world. Yet, one of our lectionary texts for this week seems to promise that peace can be within reach.
Through the tender mercy of our God,
the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79 NKJV
But on this day, in the middle of Advent’s week of peace, I wonder how I might find even a bit of God’s promised peace. Peace remains elusive to me as I look around me at a world of chaos, discontent, oppression, unrelenting pandemic, fear, uncertainty and all manner of disturbance. ”I need peace of mind!” the people cry. If I have ears to hear their cry, and my own, I must own the reality that I need peace of mind, too. But I also need peace of the soul. I need deep down peace to make its way to where my emotions live.
Isn’t it true that Advent Peace is about soul transformation—the kind of transformation that stops with the decorating, baking, shopping and all things frenzy? Isn’t it true that instead of Christmas frenzy, all of us yearn for Advent peace?
And so I stop and close my eyes.
I breathe slowly and deeply.
Again. Again. Again.
I breathe deeply and, as I slowly exhale, I feel my heart beating slower.
I feel my arms relaxing
and my muscles releasing the tightness they always hold on to.
I rest in arms of grace and listen for Spirit breeze that calms me.
I contemplate what’s in my heart
and wait silently to hear my soul’s whisper.
Does deep breathing allow the Spirit of Peace to envelop me with her tranquility? Do those few quiet moments take me to that place inside me where all is calm? It seems so, at least for a while. Interspersing my frenzied life with brief moments of contemplation makes all the difference in the world for me. I do sense Advent peace in those moments. Or is it that I reached down deeply enough into my soul and found the peace that was already there? Either way, I still held on to a few moments of peace.
If you and I are able to find that place of peace, we can then pass it on to others who need it and even to the chaotic world around us. During this week of Advent peace, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see dozens of random acts of peace? Whether that’s raking a neighbor’s yard, or taking a meal to a family with a new baby, or doing a home repair for an elderly couple, or sending a card, might we seek out someone who could use a little more peace in their lives?
When we reach out to other souls with random acts of peace, we give human form to the Peace of Christ. Christ clothes us in His humanity. We are His continuing incarnation in the world. These thoughts are described beautifully by Joseph B. Clower in his book, ”The Church in the Thought of Jesus.”
If the indwelling Christ is not confined,
then our eyes flow with His tears,
our hearts are moved with His compassion,
our hands are coarsened with His labor,
our feet are wearied with His walking among all people.
Now, take a slow, deep breath. Let it out. Take another breath. Contemplate the Prince of Peace and how much He wants peace for your life. Breathe deeply. Let it out.
Now keep breathing, and find something peaceful to do today for another person who needs peace as much as you do—a random act of peace. Amen.
I invite you to spend a few moments of contemplation by listening to this video, Dona Nobis Pacem— Grant Us Peace.