“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
It seems impossible that we are entering Advent 2021. After nearly two years of an upside down world, folks are looking forward to a new year. A better year. A “normal” year. But it is not the change of numbers from 2021 to 2022 on a calendar that will bring a better year; it is God working in and through each of us and the fruit that we produce as followers of Christ that will bring a better year.
Today’s verse is John 14:27: “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.” Peace – what a beautiful word! So many in our world long for peace. The Hebrew word shalom is generally translated as “peace” – but it means so much more than an absence of conflict. Shalom also expresses the ideas of harmony, wholeness, completeness.
You may be familiar with an old hymn Peace in the Valley. The chorus goes like this:
There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me.
I recently spent a week in Hurley, VA with a disaster response team working on rebuilding homes that were damaged as a result of severe flooding following Hurricane Ida in August. Hurly is deep in a valley and the small creeks that flow alongside the roads do not look threatening. But seven inches of rain in a span of four hours not only brought the creeks out of their banks but also brought water, mud, trees, and rocks sliding down the sides of the mountains so that even those homes that were above the creeks were not safe. Even three months after the flooding, there is debris everywhere. Bridges were washed out. Houses were knocked off foundations. Rooms were filled with mud and water. Some houses were completely destroyed. There is still a tremendous amount of work to do to restore peace, harmony, and wholeness to this valley.
But as we met folks in Hurley, and joined them and others in slowly but surely restoring their homes, there was a sense of peace. It was the peace that God brings, and our team represented that peace that comes not from the world but from the love of God. We serve because we are called to serve God by serving others.
How are you serving God? How are you bringing God’s peace – shalom – to others? There are opportunities everywhere. My prayer today is that God will open our eyes to places where his peace is needed and will give us the means to share his peace. Peace be with you this Advent season and in the new year.
Note: We thanks Pastor Rosemary Blankenship for her thoughtful contribution to our advent blog series.