Though I feel compelled to blog and talk, I have decided to shut it down till after the holidays. That is my desire as I feel I need some downtime to gather my thoughts.
So I’m going to leave you with a great quote from one of Henri Nouwen’s books where he talks about silence as protecting the “inner fire.”
And last, I will leave you with my Advent reflection for our church journal on Peace in Relationships.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year!
“When the door of the steambath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its rememberance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good. Thereafter the intellect, though lacking appropriate ideas, pours out a welter of confused thoughts to anyone it meets, as it no longer has the Holy Spirit to keep its understanding free from fantasy. Ideas of value always shun verbosity, being foreign to confusion and fantasy. Timely silence, then, is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”
Diadochus of Photiki, quoted by Henri Nouwen in The Way of the Heart
Peace in Relationships
Peace can be defined many ways, but it usually is summed up best in a dictionary as the “absence” of something. For example, the absence of war, conflict, mental anxiety and so on. Therefore, we have come to believe that for peace to be achieved that there must be an absence of such things in the world and more specifically in our lives and the relationships that we are a part of. But as I look at the biblical text I am struck by the fact that peace is not the absence of these things, but rather, peace is the presence of God in our lives. The word shalom in the Old Testament means “peace, welfare, completeness.” To have God’s shalom is not the absence of stress or conflict in our lives, yet it is the presence of God in the midst of these things. It is the presence of God, who will therefore bring about a type of completeness and wholeness to our relationships that could not otherwise be achieved.
In Isaiah 26:3-4 we read, “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace–in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for in the LORD GOD you have an everlasting rock.” We see that God’s people were kept in peace because they trusted in him. This is a remarkable passage considering all of the war and conflict that God’s people have had to endure throughout the centuries. Yet it is these people, the people of God who most completely experience God’s shalom. As we approach the Christmas season we enter into a time of year where peace is wished upon everyone. Yet we can look around the world and see that there is little peace. And we know even more intimately that we live in relationships among friends and family where there seems to be a lack of peace.
But my hope and prayer for you this Christmas season is that we come to recognize that peace in our lives is not the lack of conflict, or the absence of war, yet, it is the presence of God with us during these difficult times. It is the presence of God who brings about a wholeness and completeness to us and our relationships even when they seem to be in disarray. May God’s shalom be with you this Christmas season and beyond.