What is peace? The word for peace used in the Hebrew portion of the Bible is a comprehensive term which includes well-being, wholeness, justice, right relationship, safety, and security. It implies having food to eat and a safe home and a caring community where there is no threat of harm.
The word for peace in the Christian portion of the Bible which was written in Greek is more narrow. The original meaning really implies cessation of hostility. So, not being in imminent danger or direct threat. The end of war or conflict. That was considered peace. But in the New Testament, the references to peace include so much more than that. The concept is more comprehensive like the understanding in the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament also highlights peace as serenity and peace of mind as well as well-being in outward circumstances.
Wonder-Full peace simply radiates beyond the idea of no direct imminent threat of danger or the ending of open violence and hostility. Peace yearns to be comprehensive and expansive. Of course, ceasing violence and war is an important part of the journey to peace but that is a step, not the destination.
It has been very disappointing to hear the bellicose rhetoric of the candidates who are seeking the nomination for president of the US. There is so much talk of fighting here and there, building walls for defense and protection, sending drones and troops, taunting with no fly zones, etc. It doesn’t sound like the glorious, encompassing Biblical vision of peace. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like the cessation of open hostility. It sounds like the ramping up of violence and conflict and war.
How we need this Christmas season. We need the star to stop us in our tracks like a deer in the headlights and get us to pursue new directions. We need the angels to sing and remind us of the glory which covers the whole Earth and all its people. We need the lowing animals to disarm our arrogant posturing. We need the baby’s cry to demand our attention and redirect our energies. We need this season, with all of it’s music and stories and images to remind us of the glories of peace.
Think of a time when you truly felt at peace. What was that like for you? How can you experience more of that sense of peace? How can more people in the world feel that way?
Prayer: May our visions of peace lead us in new directions. May our commitment to peace transform us. May our experience of peace sustain us. Amen.