For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. [Isaiah 9:6-7a (NLT)]
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” [Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)]
A candle is burning, a candle of peace, a candle to signal that conflict must cease: for Jesus is coming to show us the way; a message of peace humbly laid in the hay. [Sandra Dean, 1986]
Yesterday was the last Sunday in Advent and our northern church lit the fourth candle on their Advent wreath—the Angel’s candle, the candle of peace. Isaiah prophesied a Prince of Peace, the angels proclaimed peace on earth, and Jesus promised us His peace, but one glance at the news tells us that peace certainly doesn’t reign in our world today. We have wars, injustice, prejudice, intolerance, anger, abuse, violence, greed and indifference.
In a world filled with conflict, it looks like God reneged on His promise of peace. It wasn’t God, however, who failed us—we are the ones who failed Him. Far too often God’s gift of peace is like a book we’re given but never take the time to read or a gift card we lose when tossing out the wrapping paper. While peace is His gift, we are the ones who have to implement it. Unfortunately, all too often, we all allow fear, pride, bigotry, bias, arrogance, resentment, apathy, exasperation and wrath to shove peace right out of our hearts and lives.
Inner peace hinges on having a relationship with God. The angels brought their message of peace to the world because Jesus’ presence enables mankind to have that relationship. Inner peace, however, is not enough. For peace on earth, we must have peace with others and therein lays the problem. Our egos just can’t seem to accept turning the other cheek, humility, treating our neighbors as ourselves (especially if they don’t look or act like us), unconditional love, forgiveness or praying for our enemies. As a result, true peace escapes us.
Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of peace that came wrapped as a baby in Bethlehem. Forgive us for the way we’ve ignored this precious gift. Help us resolve the differences in our home and family, our community, our nation, and the world by bringing a portion of your peace to everyone we encounter. May we be your peace makers and let there be peace on earth.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. [St. Francis of Assisi]