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December 4, 2015

Advent 2015-2: Peace

I love to go fishing. There is nothing more calming than sitting out in a boat in the middle of a lake. There is nothing better than water smooth as glass, a warm (but not scorching hot) sun beaming down and the sound of birds calling floating through the air. Sure actually catching a fish would be nice sometimes too, but there are moments when even that isn’t a big deal. For me there is nothing more relaxing. Nothing more soothing. Nothing more peaceful

However, when I stop to think about it, the above paragraph is a horrible description of peacefulness. Not because some of you aren’t outdoorsy. Not because there is likely a swarm of mosquitos preparing to make me the daily special at an all you can drink buffet. Not because there is a leak in my boat, I forgot my sunscreen or there’s a nasty storm front moving in. No, this is a terrible description of peace, because peace is not what exists when everything is hunky-dory. Peace is what exists when things have all gone to pot. Peace is not the calm, smooth waters on a beautiful day. Peace is feeling like the water is calm in the middle of a hurricane.

Which is actually good news when you think about it, because if you’re like me there are a lot more stormy days that calm ones. A lot more busy days than relaxed ones. A lot more conflicts than carefree moments. Let’s be honest, inner peace is rather redundant during those times when everything is just peachy. But let all you-know-what break loose and that’s when a sense of peace is worth every penny!

When then angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the field they said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV). Having read this proclamation we are confronted with two possibilities. 1) The angels misspoke because clearly there is a distinct absence of peace in our world, just like there always has been, or 2) peace to men must mean something other than perpetually calm seas.

A world without conflict, stress or violence is something we should all be working towards as much as we possibly can, and yet it is a world we will never fully experience until God is given control and every life is conformed to His heart (that world is called heaven by the way). In the meantime Jesus promises a way to live with peace in our lives even when our world is, at times, anything but peaceful. He tells his followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV). Essentially Jesus tells his disciples “I know that the world around you will be wild, chaotic and tumultuous, so I am going to put my peace inside you. Some may say that Christ’s promise is too good to be real, but I think it is a dream come true.

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