Peace. As I sit to write about peace this Advent season, snow falls gently outside, and inside a blazing fire keeps me warm – a peaceful scene. Yet internally, I am starkly and painfully aware of the lack of peace throughout the world. I write on the fourth anniversary of the mass murder of beautiful young children inside their school in Newtown, Connecticut (the next town over from my own hometown). Across the world in Syria, many civilians – including beautiful and tender children – are suffering and dying in civil war. And right here in our own country, we are sharply and uncomfortably divided with intense racial strife and millions of people across the nation protesting our current President-elect and Russian interference in our democracy.
How do I settle myself into Peace while the world around me and my own heart churn with raw pain, anger and fear? I could ignore the strife, stay safe and warm inside my cozy bubble of privilege, but is that what God has called me to do? He has saved me through His own Ultimate Sacrifice; what does He ask of me in this moment?
Our God is a God of Justice, and He desires us to seek justice as well.
Our God is a God of Love, and He calls us to love fully.
God, through his Son, teaches us that a false peace – ignoring strife and basking in the good life – is not what He asks of us. Instead, we are to be His hands and feet in the world, to get messy and get involved.
Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” And in James 2:14- 17 it says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”
My problem comes when I, directed by my own intense feelings, charge ahead into the world instead of first humbly, quietly and earnestly seeking God’s will for me. I know through multiple spiritual gift inventories that He has gifted me with Mercy, number one, and Missionary, a close second. He has gifted me with awakening my heart to others and their suffering. I am eager to race into the messy world to seek justice. But if I rush ahead with my own great ideas of what that looks like, I am misdirected and wasting my energy. The Lord has saved me and He has a purpose for me. My peace comes in knowing and trusting that He grieves as I grieve, and that if I seek Him first above all else, He will show me where my work is.
In this season of Advent, we humbly await the birth of our Lord, the very moment when God Himself became flesh and stepped into this messy painful world.
Our Savior, Immanuel, God with us, Prince of Peace.
The birth of Christ really did make all things new. I pray for justice, for mercy, for humility and for peace. May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be yours, and ALL of ours, this Christmas.
Deb Arthur and her family have been at Grace Chapel for about eight years; they love this church community. Deb is a wife, a mother, an Assistant Professor at Portland State University, and a long time volunteer at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility. Whenever she can find a little time, she likes to run, to curl up with a great book, and to bake yummy stuff.