Wednesday Word: Peace
Advent II – Peace
That's the word hanging from the Advent wreath this week.
It seems as if there is precious little peace in the world right now. Besides the usual wars, famines, natural disasters, and political turmoil that rage around us, there also seems to be the decidedly un-peaceful time of the Advent season as we make our preparations for the celebration of the Incarnation both at church and at home.
What is peace? Is it the absence of conflict, wars, and/or turmoil? Is it a place of quiet? Is it a place of equilibrium? Is it your bathtub?
Peace includes all of the above and more.
Sunday we heard from Baruch. In that reading he is looking forward to the restoration of Jerusalem and says that that city will receive the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.” He also prophesies that those who have been taken away will return, and mountains and hills made low and the valleys filled up. In this return and in this leveling out, the people will experience peace.
In Luke we heard John proclaiming a baptism of repentance as John prepares for the coming of the Lord. He announces that every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. This is also a form of leveling out as the rough paths are made smooth and all flesh will see the salvation of God.
As I was thinking about this idea of peace and the leveling out, the idea of peace was more than an end to wars, famines, disasters, and turmoil of all kinds. Peace also has to do with how we experience God in our lives.
The Hebrew word Shalom, which is often translated as Peace, delves into this peaceful experience of God.
The root of Shalom is to be safe in mind, body, and/or estate. It gets at the idea of developing an inward sense of completeness and wholeness. Our peace, then, isn't dependent on outside forces (or the lack of them), but is completely dependent upon where God is in our lives – or maybe I should say, where we allow God to be in our lives.
Those mountains and hills that are to be brought low, and those valleys which are to be filled in, are more than making the road to Jerusalem smooth. They are more than the social-political-economic systems of which I preached about on Sunday. They also have to do with our inner turmoils.
As we meditate on the word Peace in this second week of Advent, there may be no better words to contemplate than those spoken at the end of the Rite I Communion service:
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord.