“…Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Don’t be troubled, don’t be afraid.” Jesus
Last Sunday during worship, as we prepared to pass the peace, I invited the children to join me on the chancel steps for a chat. My four visiting grandchildren, ages 4-10 huddled closely, always eager for a story. We navigated the reason for the season as Advent is about to begin, working first through Santa to get to Jesus.
When we finally arrived at Jesus as God’s Christmas present to the world, I asked the children this question? “If God sent Jesus into the world to bring peace, what is peace?” Given the heart-rending challenges of our world, is it any wonder that they at first seemed stumped? Dashiell, age five, used his hands to answer the question, holding them out as if smoothing a rumpled cloth. “Peace is calm,” he said, “really calm and quiet.” This brought to mind one of our favorite Christmas carols with the verse that proclaims “all is calm, all is bright”.
One of the other kids came up with “no fighting, nobody is hurting anybody”, as a definition for peace. We went back and forth like that for a while before Adeline said, “Jesus is peace because he came to wipe out our sins.” She’s not wrong about that. When our human tendency to wreak havoc in our lives, our family, and in the world gets wiped out, peace remains. Is it any wonder that God’s peace is a gift beyond human understanding? And for that matter, God’s peace is beyond our capacity to obtain alone.
Fortunately, when we humans reach the edge of impossibility, God opens a path through. God-given, God-shaped peace is an active, powerful force, a state of being and a way of living. Jesus invites us into this way of life as he did through his farewell words to the disciples. “I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
The Prince of Peace gives us a fresh understanding of peace as an untroubled and fearless heart, whatever the circumstances. As we now enter this season of Advent, we’re gifted with time to practice a spirit of peace as we navigate the chaos of our world. Draw near to the Prince of Peace, the one born to initiate shalom, a holy blessing of peace for all people.
Prayer: God of hope, peace, love and joy, come. Open us to your will and your way, that we may experience and share your greatest gift of Christmas. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,
Dr. Anna V. Copeland, Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida