Advent Week Two: Participating in Peace, Shalom
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." – John 14:27
We exist in divisive, divided times. Communities are in conflict, humans hurting humans, real needs of individuals being unmet. In moments like this, it is essential that peace is reclaimed as a vital focus of our faith-lives, to bring forth healing and beauty in the world. Advent is a time ripe for reflection and re-orientation—and as we enter into the season we are invited to experience God's peace for our lives and communities today.
Peace is often condensed to mean calm, tranquility, or the lack of conflict. While this alludes to the qualities of peace, a biblical meaning of peace, Shalom, extends beyond. A Hebrew word referenced throughout the Bible (Genesis 43:27, Exodus 4:18, Psalm 122:6), Shalom is wholeness and completeness. It is the restoration and unification of that which is broken. It is the reconciliation of all things—people to people, people to the earth, people to God—all towards one another. It is, as theologian Walter Bruggeman describes, when "all of creation is one, every creature in community with every other, living in harmony and security and joy toward the joy and well-being of every other creature".
Shalom is a slice of the Garden (Genesis 1), and a vision for Revelation 22 when everything is restored, forever and ever. When we come into relationship with Jesus, we are invited to partner with God and participate in Shalom on earth—here and now. This is an inherently creative, subversive process. It takes ingenuity, surprise, disruption, and generativeness to experience restoration in an often oppressive, divided, and unjust world.
Tired from this year, it might appear impossible to experience peace in ourselves, let alone usher forth peace for others. In these moments we are invited to turn our gaze to the Prince of Shalom—Jesus. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." – John 14:27. Our exclamations of Shalom are only sustained from the reality that peace is ultimately a gift from the Living God.
As we enter into the Advent may we orient ourselves towards the creative and beautiful and complete Shalom of God. And as we do, may it flow, in abundance, towards the world around us. Amen.
- Where, in your heart, soul, mind, and body do you need to experience the Shalom of God? Advent is a time to re-orient our whole being towards the healing presence of Jesus.
- In a time of division, we are invited to usher in unity, healing, and restoration. The Apostle Paul invites us to be in kinship with one another (Ephesians 4:32). How can you help bring Shalom to the community around you?
Words: Bryan Ye-Chung
Images: Michael Fruehmann & Eberhard Grossgasteiger