As Christians celebrate Advent–the time of preparation for Christmas–I am reminded of the song that the angels sang to the shepherds…”Peace on earth…”
What do I mean by that?
Peace has a number of different definitions: (1) the absence of war, (2) calmness, (3) tranquility, (4) a state of security provided by law, (5) a treaty to end hostilities… It’s often a passive word–it happens to us; we don’t do much to cause it.
But I don’t think that’s the kind of peace the angels meant.
I think they were talking about shalom, which is much more than the definitions above. It’s broader…and active. It encompasses wholeness…soundness…right relationships…an overflowing sense of tranquility and health that causes one to pass it on or to repay.
It’s God’s peace–and that is so very different from our limited understanding!
We cannot bring about that kind of peace on our own. Yes, we can do our part to help bring about the cessation of conflict, but for the world to experience the kind of peace the angels sang about, we have to be willing to surrender. Surrender our own demands for “right,”…our thirst for “more and more”…our conviction that we know exactly what the Divine wants for everyone…
We have to be willing to listen…to look with new eyes…to travel new roads where we may not see more than a step or two ahead…to walk with new companions we might not be completely comfortable with.
Only then will the song be complete…”Peace on earth…shalom…”