“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
December 11, 2021
Dear friends in Christ,
“The peace of God” How we long for that peace. Peace in our hearts, in our families, in our communities, in our country, in the world. Peace, peace, peace. If I could ask for one Christmas gift this year it would be “peace.” In this season of Advent 2021, peace feels far away. The cascade of upsetting news is overwhelming. Almost daily shootings, continuing hatred and divisiveness around every idea and issue in our society, the steady march of a new covid variant, the noise of social media and the press, book banning, illness and death, exhaustion. Prince of Peace!! Where are you? Jesus we await you, we long for your promise of peace and restoration. Come, Lord Jesus, bring us this peace!
Paul’s letter to the Philippians contains these familiar words, this longed for hope: “And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells his listeners and us that this peace we long for IS beyond our understanding, for it comes from God alone--a peace offered as pure gift, from the one who creates all things, loves all that He has made, and brings wholeness to our lives through Christ Jesus. The tricky part of the promise Paul relates is that the path to this peace is related to rejoicing! By rejoicing in God, in the promise of new life, rejoicing in a peace which surpasses our human strivings and even our hopes, by giving thanks for all things; that is where peace is to be inhabited. God will put it in our hearts. Peace. Peace. Peace. In spite of the way the world looks, the pain we witness, the pain we experience, when we rejoice and give thanks, peace is born. So counter intuitive. Rejoice always, again I say rejoice!
Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann puts it this way in his book The Gospel of Hope:
“Hope in gospel faith is not just a vague feeling that things will work out, for it is evident that things will not just work out. Rather, hope is the conviction, against a great deal of data, that God is tenacious and persistent in overcoming the deathliness of the world, that God intends joy and peace.” (emphasis mine)
So in this season of Advent, when we are waiting and hoping for Christ’s return, may we live as people who have faith, as people who rejoice in the promise of peace, rejoice in God who intends joy and peace for all. For He is coming, that Prince of Peace! Coming to restore all things in God’s vision. Coming to be born anew in our hearts at Christmas. May God’s peace be born in you this day. Rejoice!