It’s hard to remember sometimes, especially in the middle of the kind of tragedy I wrote about yesterday, that we’re in the second week of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas.
But this is exactly why ideas like Advent, and the intentional spiritual practice of preparing our hearts for the coming of the King, are so important. Literally everything can get lost in the distractions, and that is no way to go about the business of embracing a life of living faith.
PEACE: Advent, week two (in my book at least), is the week we emphasize PEACE. But there is so much we get wrong about the idea of peace, beginning with the limited understanding of peace as a negative value (the absence of conflict; the absence of noise; the absence of war).
Instead, peace is best understood positively, as an active and deliberate presence. Reconciliation, restoration, rejuvenation; coming together; serving the poor; standing against injustice; proactive interventions of compassion, mending, healing, grace.
Peace, perfect peace
PEACE is PROACTIVE: I have to share this picture with my grandson, David (taken outside our home), because the walks we took together during his recent, week-long, stay at Camp Grandparent, bring together so many of the elements I’m thinking about when it comes to deep and abiding peace.
Two times a day – if not more – I put David in the stroller and off we’d go. He always wanted Scout to come along too and, even though the whole operation required so much more coordination with Ms. Giant Labradoodle along for the ride, that’s what we did.
It was in the middle of one of those expeditions, easing my way down the sidewalk with a gentle breeze in my face, grandson looking over his shoulder, grinning at me, fun-loving dog trotting along at my side and checking the baby with an occasional sniff, that I realized once again (probably for the umpteenth time in as many days) that life is so very good and that “The life that is truly life” is not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy but a present and constant reality.
“Do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share. In this way you will lay up treasure for yourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that you may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19 – paraphrase)
“So, Scout… are you thinking what I’m thinking…?”
PEACE IS SOMETHING THAT WE DO: What strikes me today, is how much work – deliberation, intention, action – so often goes into an experience of peace. We work at peace… we work for peace… we actively engage everything that creates an environment characterized by peace.
Last Sunday, and I’ll round off this post with this illustration, I asked my church study group to each share something they could intentionally do during the week to bring peace into the world. Here are just a few of the responses:
Listen more than I talk
Be more courteous when I drive
Speak with kindness 100% of the time
Interact with deliberate positivity
Refuse to rush anything
Be gracious to store clerks and cashiers
Encourage my friends
Support the work of a hunger ministry
Be a genuine witness to Jesus
“I’ve got peace like a grandson…”
All of these ideas represent positive, deliberate, intentional actions in response to our understanding that – in the coming of Jesus and as we carry his name – the God of Peace is acting on this world via the ongoing work of incarnational love.