Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 21, 2012

Today's text

And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace among those he favors (Luke 2:13-14).

For a son has been born for us, a son has been given to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, 'Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace' (Isaiah 9:6).


Peace is an elusive experience for most of us. It is hard to know what it is, let alone how to find it.

But we know it when washes over us. There is a total release of inner tension and a feeling of wholeness. Our soul is soaked in the awareness that all is well and all will be well no matter what may come.

This is the oft-quoted conviction of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century English mystic. She lived at the time of the Bubonic Plague, the Black Death that killed a third of the population.

Some might say it was obscene for her to know peace at a time of such suffering. But her words reveal the promise of God for every one of us.  

I want what she had. I want the peace the Christmas angels promise.

We have too little peace in our lives and in the world. Rockets from Gaza are raining down on Jerusalem as I write. Civil war continues to roil Syria, killing thousands who only want freedom.

In the U.S., political operatives continue to offer accusatory explanations of what happened in the recent presidential election, undermining each others’ efforts instead of working for the good of all of us. No peace here, either.

And too little in our hearts. We live far from the angels’ song, but their strains bid us to quiet our hearts and listen that the song of God’s soul may fill us.

“On earth … peace, in my heart … peace, among the nations … peace, for those with whom I struggle … peace.

Turn it into a mantra, a prayer that the peace of heaven might fill your soul and cover the earth. Say it a hundred times a day or more. Repeat it as often as you think of it. Speak it quietly when you are caught in traffic or when frustration rises.

Say it as a prayer over the evening news and when you see the distress of others.
Pray it with a smile of gratitude at each sight of beauty, every song that moves you and in every moment of joy.

Make this your Christmas and New Year’s prayer, “Peace.”

The angels sing; do them the courtesy of listening for a moment and repeat their chorus, “On earth … peace.”

They will teach you what Julian knew far better than any of us. Peace has less to do with the outward circumstances of our lives than with the condition of our hearts.

It begins when we receive the love who comes to us everyday, and most certainly on Christmas Day.

For prayer and reflection

  • When have you experienced the peace of God? How does it change you? Where do you need peace this year?
  • How might you use the angel’s song as a prayer mantra? Have you ever prayed this way?
  • What is our calling as Christians in a conflicted world and nation? How can you live as a person of God’s peace?

Another voice

Child of mercy, child of peace, Jesus bread of life, food to fill our longing. Child of justice, child of light, Jesus saving cup, Emmanuel, God with us. We name him: Wonder, counselor, hero mighty God, the Holy One for ever; Prince of peace!
(“Child of Mercy,” David Haas, 1991)

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