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Our Second Advent Reflection


PEACE


Even in these unusual times, aren’t we blessed in this Christmas season to be able to hear and share the story of Jesus’ birth, the real message of the season!


A familiar reading for Advent and Christmas is found in the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

One of the titles given to Jesus is Prince of Peace or, in the original Hebrew language, Sar Shalom.


Shalom is often translated as ‘peace’ but it has a much wider and richer meaning than we commonly associate with the word peace.


We know from our own experience that all is not well in this world. In so many ways there is an absence of peace. People are searching for a better way of life, better relationships, contentment, peace of mind. We only need to look at news reports to see the plight and persecution of so many in our world, the journey of refugees who risk so much for asylum and safety, the longing of children and adults for security and solace. We will be aware of our own desire, and that of those close to us, for peace.


At Jesus’ birth, the angels announced the good news to the shepherds in their fields. They proclaimed

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’


The peace which Jesus brings is a peace that is not just about the absence of war or conflict, but the peace of God which encompasses completeness, wholeness, well-being, harmonious relationships, contentment and rest. His is an everlasting peace with God, and the settling of our hearts over past failings, present suffering and fears for the future.


In his book ‘Mere Christianity’, CS Lewis observes that “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing”. Jesus is the very centre and source of peace. He reconciles us to God. He has made peace through his death on the cross.


This Christmas, amongst all that we do and celebrate, may we receive the wonderful message of God’s peace. May we turn to God and accept his gift and “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus” (Romans 5: 1). If we are to welcome in the Prince of Peace this Advent and Christmas, it means welcoming his transforming peace. As God reconciled himself to us through Christ, we should expect him to inspire us to pursue reconciliation and peace – not only for ourselves but for the world in which we live.


This week, let’s take some time to quietly reflect on the words Jesus spoke to his followers before he was crucified “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).


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