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.
– Isaiah 9:6
This week marks the second week of Advent, where we focus on the idea of peace.
When I was in high school, I started attending the Anglican church. Almost every church service ended with these words, drawn from Philippians 4:7:
“The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.”
“The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding:” I did not think about what that meant at the time. I figured it had something to do with international relations and not fighting with my friends. Frankly, I was much more concerned with what I was wearing and what university I’d attend.
As an adult, peace takes on an entirely different meaning, especially now, at the end of a globally tumultuous year. As the world stands more divided and sometimes hatred seems to reign, having a sense of peace seems next to impossible. But Jesus came as the Prince of Peace to show us that God’s peace does not depend on the state of the world. In John 14:27. Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” In other words, the world will always be filled with war, and conflict, and strife: the wages of original sin. But Jesus offers us a different kind of peace. As He says in John 16:33, “you may have peace in me.” No matter how crazy the world gets, we can access God’s peace through Christ.
While worldly peace often entails elaborate negotiations and treaties, we can enter into God’s peace much more simply. As Dwight Moody wrote, “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is enter into it.”
We can enter into God’s peace when we give the first moments of the day to prayer. We can enter into it when we surrender control and ask God to take the wheel. We can enter into it when we hold our tongue and give people the benefit of the doubt. We can enter into it when we choose kindness over being right. We can enter into it when we live forgiven and we extend that forgiveness to others.
We can enter into God’s peace every time we live more like Jesus and less like the world.
It’s countercultural. And it will set us free.
On this second week of advent, we light the peace candle to remind us that we are the inheritors of God’s kingdom and that the peace, which passeth all understanding, is available to us whenever we decide to enter into it.