In the second week of Advent, we light the candle of peace. Peace in one sense is the absence of conflict. We are at peace with each other when we are not fighting. And this is true, but only scratches the surface of peace. And as advent people, we want the deeper meaning.
To move beyond a sense of simply not harming each other, we can think about harmony. Peace is not only when we stop throwing rocks but when we are working together. And especially when we are working towards benefitting each other. And even more especially when we are working together towards lifting those around us to better places in life.
But then there’s our relationship to God. Peace with God may feel like the absence of sin in our lives. But given our human propensity miss the mark sometimes, peace with God is a struggle to not mess up, then mess up, confess and try not to mess up again. Peace with God is tenuous at best and an anxiety-filled cycle of fear and self-loathing at its most sinister.
Dr. Alexander Shaia, however, explains peace as when we go from hoping to knowing that God loves us. When we internalize that God is love, and loves us unconditionally, we no longer worry about whether we are on the naughty or nice list. Hoping that God loves us is very different from knowing. Hoping God loves us leaves us anxious. Knowing God loves us helps us to face all kinds of circumstances in our lives, like the trials we face and corrections that come when we stumble.
We can have this peace with each other as well. We we know that someone loves us, we can take advice and criticism because we don’t suspect ulterior motives, but rather a genuine interest in building us up.
Peace therefore, is always rooted in deep deep love. And this is precisely demonstrated in the Advent to Christmas story. The people of God went from hoping for a savior, to knowing that one was here as the angels announced: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
VERSE: John 14:27
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.
Prayer: O God of peace, take us from hoping you love us to knowing you love us. Open our eyes and ears and hearts once again to the advent story that begins with hope and culminates with a savior. Push us to peace with each other and settle in our hearts once for all your great love for us.