Lighting The Candle Of Peace
At my church, which is a PCUSA church lights a candle each week of Advent. The second candle is the candle of peace. I would like to share my reflections of a few bible verses about peace. My intention is that my words will not only help you celebrate the Advent season, but live the season in your heart.
Peace is important. Something we all struggle with from point to point on our journey. Things happen to us to knock us off balance and we lose our peace. I believe we move from hope to peace, because these two virtues are connected. When you have hope or are hopeful, peace would be the next logical step and by being peaceful hope is a natural outgrowth. They go so naturally together. I have struggled at times with being peaceful and not letting life’s up’s and down’s unsettle me. Not only do we need to be without anxiety and worry, but yearning too much for something can also steal our peace. If we let out emotions rule our life than we will be without peace. Peace is an active not a passive state, it is something to work and deepen a choice and a way to live life.
If we want peace, and I think we all want peace, then we must begin in our hearts and seek the peace we want there and extend person to person until it encompasses the whole of the universe. Peace must begin with us, but not stop there to mean anything peace must be a response to life and extended to all in every moment in life. Peace is a smile, greeting a stranger, helping a hurting and needy person, passing on things such as knowledge, books, gifts, and time, sharing resources, and treating others how we ourselves would like to be treated. Peace is not weakness, but strength. Yet, we cannot extend peace to others if their hearts are closed and fists clenched. If they are not ready or willing to receive the peace we offer than we should move on and not let their unwillingness affect our peace.
Thomas Merton writes, “Peace cannot be built on exclusivism, absolutism, and intolerance. But neither can it be built on vague liberal slogans and pious programs gestated in the smoke of confabulation. There can be no peace on earth without the kind of inner change that brings man back to his “right mind.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”
Before we can attain world peace, we must realize our own inner peace primarily, then we will see the change we want, maybe it’s just a change in the lighting or it could be a change in the world and the eyes that we see it. As we light, the candle of peace we pray for the chance to obtain first inner peace and secondly outer peace. In doing this we recognize that we don’t often posses this peace that we long for, the peace that will transform our lives and the world. By inner peace, I don’t mean to sound selfish. I am speaking about a way of perceiving and being in the world, understanding that we don’t have control over what happens only how we respond to it. We chose the attitude we bring to life. We can chose to be positive or negative to smile or to frown, to direct our energies out or in. I have seen that when I fret over not having the things I want and being depressed about lacking the peace I want I feel small, sad, and unable to respond to life in healthy ways. Yet, I ask and pray to be an instrument of God’s will and do what I can to make my life and others easier, better than I feel light and able to respond to life in healthy and sane ways.
Philippians 4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Therefore, may this season and the New Year bring peace to our hearts and soul and we extend that same peace to all our interactions to the world, in both big and small ways. I pray that we a will no longer think of our own concerns first, but work to make this world safer, saner, happier, healthier, and just place to live together not to bring any reward to ourselves, but to glorify God in all things we do.
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