14 Dec God’s Peace
by Merritt Goodman, Fourth Grade Teacher
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27
What do you think of when you think of peace? When I ask myself this question, my mind instantly goes to visions of tranquil waterfalls, sitting on the beach with the waves lapping at the shore, a leisurely walk at Radnor Lake with a friend, or an afternoon relaxing in my hammock. When I look back at all these images, I realize that these images of peace have one thing in common: an absence of something. The absence of chaos, the absence of hardship, the absence of responsibility, the absence of busyness, the absence of whatever is right in front of me that brings me trouble.
If I’m honest, the peace that I find myself craving in the midst of my overcrowded schedule or my busy workday is this fleeting sense of peace that feels wonderful in the moment but doesn’t endure. The chaos, the hardship, the responsibility, the busyness comes right back the moment I step out of my hammock or the moment I finish walking the trails at Radnor. Enticing as it might seem in the moment, I’ve come to realize this kind of peace that the “world” gives (an absence of something) is not the kind of peace my heart truly desires. This kind of peace is only found in Jesus–a peace the world is incapable of giving–a peace that was ultimately given to us so freely through the form of a baby one silent night long ago. The peace Jesus offers us is vastly different than the peace the world offers. Instead of an absence of something, the peace Jesus offers us is His presence. It is not a promise of taking away whatever troubles us, but it is his enduring presence while we walk through it.
As we light the advent candle in chapel each morning, it is this peace that our hearts cry out for as we sing as a community of believers, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This peace, His presence, is the ultimate example of Emmanuel “God with Us.” Next week, as we enter into Christmas break and light the candle of peace at our own churches, may we remember that God’s peace is the promise of His presence, and because of this, we can experience the peace of Christ at any time, regardless of what stands in front of us–even during times of chaos, busyness, and confusion. This is the peace that is lasting. This is the peace that my heart really longs for. This is the Peace on Earth that we all hope for. It is simply His presence. May we all experience God’s peace this Christmas season.