Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent & Peace

We are now in the liturgical season of Advent, this anglicized word comes from the Latin word adventus and literally means “coming.” This is a season of expectation, of preparation, of waiting for a coming. This coming is likely different for each of us depending on our beliefs and backgrounds. For some it is the second coming of Christ physically to this earth, for others it is the concept of an era of peace unknown before in human history, for some it is a baby in a manager and for others it might simply be the survival of a hectic Christmas season with the hope stillness lies before us in January. Regardless, we all find ourselves in a season of anticipating something or someone. Each week of Advent the Church gives us a different focus or concept to consider and meditate on. Today we celebrate the idea of peace during this season of anticipation. 

Peace is an often used word but a rarely understood concept. We all desire and want peace but oftentimes that is where ‘peace’ ends in our life, simply with the desire but without the manifestation. The dictionary tells us peace is a sign of harmony characterized by the lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence.

This sounds terrific, but honestly how do we make peace a reality in our everyday lives? How do we walk in the peace of God which Scripture says surpasses all understanding?
Drake University did a study on "peace of mind." They found these factors to contribute greatly to emotional and mental stability are: 
  • The absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness. 
  • Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression. 
  • Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it. 
  • Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress. 
  • Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune. 
  • Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues--love, humor, compassion and loyalty. 
  • Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable. 
  • Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness.
Let us try to take one or two of these ideas and implement them into our lives and the lives of those around us. It is said peace must begin with a single individual. It must begin in our hearts. The advent of world peace will not arrive until each woman, man and child has found peace of mind and rests in divine stillness which, as Christians, we know as Emmanuel, God with us. 
I will end with this thought by an unknown author:
“Safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.”
We might say: peace consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God. We will always have turmoil and chaotic events in this life, at least for the foreseeable future, but we can find peace even in the midst of them for we are a people of Advent, a people of anticipation and we know PEACE is with us and is continually arriving for all people-kind.  
May God’s peace be with you. +

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