Let there be PEACE on earth and let it begin with me
The first snowfall of winter is happening right now at our home. What is it about falling snow that is so peaceful that there’s even a Peaceful Snowfall app? As I sit gazing out the window beyond our Christmas tree, a sense of peace and goodwill envelops me. I wish that feeling could stay with me always. But wait a minute—why can’t it? This is the season to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace—doesn’t that mean something today, here and now?
A prophecy in the Hebrew scriptures promised a Messiah to come who would be the leader of PEACE. “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This was a promise to the Jews and, I believe, a promise to us today. “The Prince of Wholeness” has come and we celebrate his arrival during Advent.
Advent worship is a journey toward the Christmas story—the story of God putting his family back together. Advent is the story of shalom—peace; wholeness; completeness; the way God meant it to be all along. PEACE—particularly, the PEACE we celebrate at Advent—is not merely the absence of conflict; it’s a sense of wholeness, a sense that all is well within you.
So there I was, looking up the dictionary definition of PEACE, like a good little researcher, and I came across this gem at oxforddictionaries.com: “Freedom from disturbance; tranquility. ‘he just wanted to drink a few beers in peace.’” Can y’all relate? The weeks leading up to Christmas can be anything but peaceful—decorating, shopping, wrapping, managing expectations, steeling yourself for the family drama, traveling, parties, events etc., etc., etc. Is it realistic—is it even possible—to prepare for PEACE? Don’t you sometimes feel like these lyrics?
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
It seems this year there are many more broken pieces than PEACE—political division, religious upheaval, family discord. My friend Vicki says, “PEACE is where all the pieces come together.” There is a tranquility that happens when we have integrity; when who we are and what we do match up. The philosopher Seneca called this “euthymia,—the belief that you’re on the right path and not led astray by the many tracks which cross yours.” Internal peace is knowing your value, having security in your identity and living that out in your walking-around life. Comparison with others and unrealistic expectations are enemies of PEACE. PEACE comes and settles in when we are being who we were made to be—nothing less, nothing more.
God’s angelic choir came to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, singing this song: “Glory to God in the highest, qnd on earth peace toward people of goodwill!”
Christ’s birth was a harbinger of the Kingdom of God, which was to be a kingdom of PEACE. Author Sarah Bessey says, “I believe Advent reminds me that peace was announced then and peace was promised and that peace is our birthright and our endgame and our wholeness at last.” PEACE is our promise, even when we can’t see it. We can follow Christ and embody the PEACE he comes to give,
knowing we now see through a dark glass but one day we will see clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12);
knowing that PEACE is not just for the future but for today (John 14:27);
knowing that sharing PEACE is ushering in the kingdom that Christ comes to announce (Romans 14:17);
knowing that PEACE can be the ruler of our hearts (Colossians 3:15).
PEACE is not merely an individual pursuit. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” While PEACE starts as an inside job, it certainly doesn’t end there. For PEACE on earth to be a reality, it must move from our hearts to our lives. How can you—in your community, in your family, in your place of worship, in your work—pursue the things which make for PEACE (Romans 14:19)? The first step is acknowledging any lack of PEACE and making a commitment to change. The next step is changing, actually orienting your life around the PEACE of Christ.
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, Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
For the sake of your own PEACE of mind (and for the sakes of those around you), find a few moments to yourself, maybe drink a few beers or pull up your Peaceful Snowfall app, and reflect on the Prince of PEACE who comes to bring shalom, even during this hectic season. Let there be PEACE on earth and let it begin with me!
What’s your favorite way to bring PEACE to your Advent celebration? Share in the Comments below to encourage us to find PEACE this season!
Photo via Unsplash.
About Janene Cates Putman
Janene Cates Putman is a literary publicist and marketing coach, activist, writer, and speaker. She and her Hot Husband live in the mountains of east Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @jdixie0105.