We are currently in the season of Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ. During the Christmas season one of the most difficult things to find is genuine peace. We are constantly concerned with decorating the house, buying all the gifts, drinking lots of hot chocolate, baking and eating Christmas cookies in an effort to squeeze in as much Christmas cheer as we possibly can. But what tends to happen is by the time Christmas does come and go I often feel like I missed the season, that it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. Those are the worst Christmases, the ones that don’t feel like Christmas and the peace and joy of the season missed.
This year, I am entering this season of Advent with a heart that has found much peace in the past few months. It seems that when you take three months to do nothing but drink tea, ponder God, pray, journal and read that peace is a natural side effect. I have just recently returned home to the United States and have been thrust into yet another transitional period of life, trying to listen for the call of God and figure out my next few steps, AKA not a very peaceful period. However, in this season of Advent, I don’t want to get caught up in the swirl of things and I certainly do not want to get caught up in the storm of worry and anxiety; instead I want to get back to that peace I have discovered in the past few months. I want Christmas to actually feel like Christmas. Too often I, along with so many others, tend to put Jesus and his peace on the back burner during Christmas time. It is so easy to get swept up in the rush of the holidays and lose track of time and lose track of that quiet hum of God’s peace, joy and love.
I have just started an Advent study, I am, of course about a week behind and working my way to catching up. But the second day’s study focuses on exactly what this post is discussing–God’s peace. I have recently been reading another one of Henri Nouwen’s books, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World. In this book Nouwen discusses how we need to set aside time to just simply be, a quiet time in which we meditate and let our hearts come to rest. During this Christmas season I am going to try and make time for this necessary quiet time, to actively seek out God’s peace and let God in.
In the last few months, a dear friend of mine has constantly told me to just let myself be. It is when I stop all the struggling and striving and simply come back to a state of rest, to let my heart, mind and body simply be, that I find myself coming straight into the heart of God’s peace.
This past Friday I went to the Church that became my home this past summer. The St. Andrews St. Andrews Episcopal Church in St. Andrews, Scotland offered my heart sanctuary in a time that was an incredibly stressful, hopeless and uncertain time in my life. I wandered in one Friday in June and was met by a woman, Sybil, who welcomed me in and offered me the blessings of acceptance and peace. This past Friday I had a heart to heart with a man who took communion with us every Friday, a former Episcopalian priest. This man told me something that has stuck with my heart. For so long I kept my heart boarded up, scared to trust God, love and let people fully in. My friend looked at me and said: “The disciples were boarded up in a room, locking everyone out and that is when Jesus came in.” If I think about this past year, I see that my heart was boarded up–to an extent, locking out love, peace and locking out God, but still Jesus came in.
In the passage John 20:19-21 we see what happens:
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
In this season of Advent I hope that Jesus comes in and offers you his peace. May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, full of God’s peace, love and joy.
May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Peace, Joy, Blessings and So Much Love,