PEACE: ADVENT DEVOTIONAL by Colin and Kaimana Farris
As we near the end of 2020, the word “unrest” seems fitting. Yet “unrest” is an understatement when describing what some reading this might still be enduring. This year has brought change, loss and grief to each one of us in some measure. We can agree on that statement, and some of us are still awaiting the silver lining. Even still, this Sunday marks the second week of Advent; a time to focus on Peace.
Jesus said to his disciples “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
The timing of his statement is poignant. Moments before, Judas had left the table to betray Jesus. This was just one of many actions that culminated in Jesus’ unjust death by crucifixion. There was a machine being built, one lever, one screw, one cog at a time. This machine was being meticulously pieced together in response to the way Jesus was already embodying peace within a broken world. Every hand made whole, every sin forgiven, every outcast regathered into community, every child listened to, every meal shared with an outsider, every word of truth spoken against injustice—each of these actions bringing the machine one step closer to completion.
Before Jesus gave his peace to his disciples he described his relationship with God: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves…And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” John 14:9-11, 16-17a (NIV)
God the Father, Son, and Spirit exist in an interdependent, mutual, reciprocal, honoring community of solidarity with each other. Remember the beginning? At the outset of creation, God, the Spirit and the Word were united together in the work of creating life, sustaining, providing, resting. Humans are created in their image, to be partners in their work—cultivating creation, entering their communion and co-creating life through many generations. It’s a beautiful picture of a human and divine, material and spiritual harmonious ecosystem. In the beginning there was peace.
Yes, the way Jesus engaged with the world upset the powers behind the status quo. Jesus could hear the clattering machine of his imminent death growing ever louder, but apparently that did not rob him of peace. Instead, Jesus makes an astounding move. He includes the disciples into the harmonious relationship that has been ever present among the community of the three Persons of God: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20 (NIV)
The peace Jesus gives is the outcome of His eternal communion with, and perfect obedience to, God the Father. So what is the way of Jesus we are asked to follow in? Feed the hungry, heal the sick, weep with those who weep, acknowledge our shortcomings and failures, turn the other cheek, walk miles when asked to walk only one, overlook offenses, forgive material and immaterial debts, concretely love our enemies, have regard for the vulnerable, speak truth to unjust uses of power and pray for all who respond in fear and hate to such actions. When these ways of being in the world are consistently embodied in society, bits of shalom are unapologetically breaking into to the world.
“I am in my Father, and [we] are in [Jesus]”. Eph. 2:14-18 (NIV) To follow Jesus is to let ourselves be gathered up into the community of the Trinity, to walk in the same way of the One who bears in his body the peace we all desperately long for, to take on his easy yoke and light burden, to join the Father in bringing that same creative, provisional, sustaining wholeness to a shattered world—the Shalom of all things.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
If fatigue and despair from what we’ve experienced this year is eroding our faith, may the peace of Jesus sustain us.
If our addictions have bound us in shame, may the peace of Jesus restore and rightly name us.
If our appetites mislead us, may the peace of Jesus transform and redirect us.
If we have disregarded the needs of the communities we find ourselves in, may the peace of Jesus energize us to act.
If we are willfully or unwittingly involved in any form of oppression, may the peace of Jesus challenge us.
If we are tired of speaking and acting against injustice, may the peace of Jesus revive us.
If we are ineffective because we suppress the truth due to our fear of loss or need for self-preservation, may the peace of Jesus remind us that his way ends in resurrection.
Colin & Kaimana