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December 2, 2020, 11:14 AM

Dear Friends,
    This Sunday we move to the Advent candle of Peace. We talk or sing about peace quite a bit in the church (i.e. “Peace like a river,” “The Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace,” “in peace may all earth’s people draw together,” “bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.”  In fact, there are 125 hymns that reference “peace” and 44 poems, quotes, psalters, or scripture references in our Chalice Hymnal!  
As kids growing up, I remember numerous times when our mother would call us down from bickering or fighting with each other saying exasperatedly, “Stop that and make peace with each other!” That, of course, meant stop fighting IMMEDIATELY!  Effectively that brought about a restless détente with each of us looking for the slightest action from the other to justly break the peace. The covert finger poke or under the table leg kick erupting us back into open hostilities. Now I wonder if our Mom was only hoping for a cease-fire or if she thought it useless to pursue an actual level of forgiveness between us? Surely, she was not patient or long-suffering enough to wait until we grew out of this antagonistic phase of childhood! As I have shared with you before, this was probably why there were those wooden Bolo paddles placed strategically in kitchen drawers, her purse, and under the driver’s seat in the car. When peace could not be achieved between us, it was delivered for on high!
    Given those childhood experiences of “peace,” is that like our hoped-for peace we seek from God? “Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace,” … is that us asking God to break out the “heavenly Bolo paddle” and establish peace in the earthly household because we cannot do it ourselves? This seems to harken to the image of God the Shepherd in the 23 Psalm whose rod and staff “comfort” me. What are we asking for when we sing “may the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace?”  
    In our hymnal, there are a few ways peace is used. Peace in connection with joy, gladness, light, rest, of God and of Christ, power, the Word of, and the way of. Surprisingly, there is only one reference to “peacemaker” in all these peace-attentive hymns and it is in a responsive reading from the beatitudes # 185. If this is indicative of a variety of hymn writers’ perspectives, then they are anticipating that only God will be able to bring about the “peace” we yearningly sing about. Are we to be serious and involved in the business of peacemaking? It would be much easier to give in to our childish nature and escalate the fighting until only one of us is left standing. Peacemaking is hard! It requires constant attention and energy. It also requires personal sacrifice and a strong desire to keep the other lifted and not subdued. 
    This Sunday, as we light the Advent candle of Peace… I pray that you will be a peace-maker in this Advent season. Seek out those opportunities to bring a moment of “cease-fire” and intentional moments to provide a calm, new breath for the world in this Advent time.

In Christ’s service together wherever He leads,