Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
In this season of Advent, we are exploring “30 Second Spirituality” – spiritual practices for people who don’t have time for spiritual practices.
I am the first to admit that the word “peace” is used so often that my eyes sometimes glaze over when we start to talk about it. This word seems to be a catch phrase during the Advent and Christmas season especially. We see cards and kitsch with “PEACE” plastered all over as something we see in the snow. In addition, when our lives seem so chaotic it seems a bit frivolous to sit around thinking about peace. In my mind, I am guilty of passing over peace as a nice sentiment but hard to be spiritual about.
And then I read today’s scriptures and the realization hits that perhaps peace is more than just a nice sentiment. In Psalm and throughout the gospel of Luke, peace is actually way more than just lack of conflict. The idea is that Shalom is more about a total well being in our lives by looking to God. Peace is active and takes place in all moments of life. In Psalm 85, the assurance that God gives us in the form of shalom should carry us throughout the day as we work towards wholeness in our lives.
In Luke, we are reminded that God will be coming to add to the peace of the world through Zechariah’s song. In fact, God is still moving in the world and so no matter what we do we will catch glimpses of peace which in turn transform us and transform the world.
For all of is in our busy lives, these tidbits are good news for our daily lives. First of all, we don’t have to do anything to see what God is doing in terms of peace in the world. Throughout the season and beyond, God will remind us that we are given peace in the form of a new life. God will peek into our lives whether we like it or not because God yearns for us to be whole beings. God will surprise us, assure us, and live with us while we wait.
In the meantime, if we do take a moment in our busy days to figure out where we might add to our wholeness as human beings, we will also be guided towards shalom. Perhaps this could be a moment of stillness…just a moment. Just a breath. Try it now.
Or perhaps this is a workout on a busy day, a walk, a chat with a friend or a child in your life, a moment in the car while waiting for the kids at school to read something that feeds the soul, or even feeding yourself well. Or maybe you can look at those cheesy “peace” holiday cards and reflect on your own wholeness. In turn, these moments of wholeness will transform you, the world, and this chaotic season.
Quotes for the Week
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” -Hermann Hesse
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” –Buddha
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” –Mother Teresa
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. “-C. S. Lewis
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” –Virginia Woolf
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13 (NRSV)
Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. Selah
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
Luke 1:68-79 (NRSV)
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant,the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon 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.”
Questions for the Week
What gives you peace in your daily life?
When have you felt so full of peace that you wanted to sing to God?
How do you contribute to wholeness?