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A Four Week Advent Series: Week 4 - Waiting in Peace
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December 18, 2022
A Four Week Advent Series: A Time to Wait Week Four: Waiting in Peace
Hello faithful reader! I’ll be quietly delivering an Advent devotional to your inbox early each Sunday morning for four weeks, as my special gift to you this Advent season. You can find Week One of the Advent series, on Hope, , Week Two on Faith, and Week Three on Joy,
If you’re new around here, you probably found me through the 30 Prayers For When You Feel Lonely and Left Out Ebook. I write about belonging, identity, loneliness, culture, faith, and finding beauty in this broken yet beautiful world.
image source: pexels
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet, their songs repeat
"Peace on Earth, good will to men."*
Peace. I think that is what many of us are seeking: peace of mind, peace in our lives, peace in our world. We seek inner and outer peace, a rest from internal and external turmoil.
If we consider the definition of peace, we may define it as the absence of anxiety, anguish, concern, worry, or war.
But peace is not simply the absence of conflict.
It is a state of harmony, with everything playing its respective role; it’s the way things are “supposed to be.”
The Hebrew word “Shalom” is the most common word in the Bible for peace. It is a common greeting in Jewish culture. They say, “shalom aleichem” which means “peace be to you” when they say hello, and “aleichem shalom” which means “to you, peace”, when they say goodbye.**
The word shalom comes from the Hebrew word “shalem,” which means whole, complete, safety, harmony. It means more than just the absence of conflict; it means fulness, completeness, and harmony.
The God of Shalom sent Jesus so we can be “reconciled” to God, to be in restored relationship, so we are not living in constant conflict or separation from God. When Jesus was born, angels proclaimed “shalom on Earth” or “peace on earth.” Jesus is called the “prince of peace.” We understand peace to indicate the peace that comes from knowing Jesus and the gift of reconciliation he offers the world.
The peace that Jesus brings is one that is different: “Not as the world gives, but my peace.” The world’s peace is temporary and limited, but God’s peace is eternal, and opposite to the chaos of the world.
We long for this kind of peace, for lasting shalom.
May this Christmas bring you peace, as you find moments of peace within and without, and as you wait for lasting shalom.
Questions for Reflection:
What does peace mean to you?
What about the Advent season brings you peace?
How can you find an internal sense of peace in the midst of external turmoil?
*(Lyrics from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”)
Image credit: Madeleine L’Engle Facebook Page
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
A Sonnet by Malcolm Guite
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.
Image source: Pexels
Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
by Dr. Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
― Maya Angelou (2005)
Thank you for being here, dear reader. Your presence is a gift. If this is your first newsletter from me, you probably subscribed from my website, signed up for the free 30 Prayers for When You Feel Lonely and Left Out ebook, my Chai Recipe, When I Write booklet, or another giveaway. I’m so thankful you’re here.
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Until next time, remember beauty abounds. What beauty and daily wonders surround you?
Make it a lovely one,
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