What does it mean to make peace? Is it finding calm in the midst of storms? Is it the end of violence and war? Is it self-love as a rejection of shame? Is it self-protection in defiance of abuse?
It’s all of the above, of course.
Peacemaking is the sacred activity needed for grace, healing, and growth to take hold in our circumstances. It means different things at different times, but always it’s a combination of being and doing.
Often, peace is quite simple – it’s calm, stillness, rest.
If we’ve packed 25 hours’ worth of commitments into every day…
If we’ve got too many voices clamoring for our attention…
If we feel enormous pressure to deliver on unrealistic promises…
If the cost of validating our existence in the minds of others is too high…
Then peace comes as an essential escape or retreat from the insanity of life. We say ‘No’ to the impulse to be busy and the demands that we perform.
In this way, peacemaking is the process of quieting our lives, and allowing less into our spiritual, mental and emotional space. It is a conscientious, intentional decision to rest, to heal, to let things be well in our souls.
But that’s not the full story on peacemaking. There are times when peacemaking is much more about what we do than what we refrain from doing.
Sometimes peace is not stillness to counter general chaos, but hard work to counter specific violence. Peace must be an active, intervening force, when people’s words and actions are causing harm, or when malice has broken our homes, our hearts and/or our bodies.
Consider that you have a friend who is trying to get out of an abusive relationship. There won’t be peace until there is a safe separation from the abuser, and achieving that separation will require difficult decisions and concrete steps. Your partnership with your friend will be a collaboration of planning, action and focused material support.
When dealing with this kind of traumatic situation, you might not feel calm or rest or assurance along the way. But as sure as anything, you’re a peacemaker. Sometimes you feel anxious or even terrified, because you are doing what needs to be done, for the cause of peace.
In the season of Advent, Peace is an essential spiritual pursuit, while we are awaiting the birth of Christ. He is the prince of peace, born impoverished and vulnerable into a violent and chaotic world. And he invites us to embrace his Way, in preparation for Christmas.
Whether it’s in saying No! to the storms of busy-ness and pressure, or whether it’s in saying Yes! to the work of confronting injustice in love, we are invited to choose peace, this Advent season.
The Table is a Christian church in Davenport, Iowa, seeking transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport Iowa