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Tag Archive | "peace"

Gift of Peace


Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township 

Too often we end the holiday season completely drained, both emotionally and physically. We then tend to call on God to refresh us, to restore our vigor and our lives to “normal.” But what if we were to ask God for restoration along the way? What if we planned into our busy holiday schedules time to draw closer to the reason for our celebrations? What if we were to decide now to have a spirit of peace despite the overwhelming pressure to live up to expectations to get the right gift, make all the parties, host dinners, send the cards, etc? That is what I would like to suggest.

During this special time, let’s decide not to let the pressures mount up but instead let the Child whose birth we are celebrating bring us the gift of Peace. We prepare our homes for the celebration by decorating so why not prepare our hearts for the celebration of our Lord’s birth, not with hectic lives but with hearts of peace and love. After all, the song says: “Love came down at Christmas” not to challenge us to get the right tree, but to have a spirit of peace and love that shows through the craziness of the world. One of my family’s traditions is to have a Christmas ornament hang in the house all year around. This reminds us not just at Christmas time but all through the year of the wonderful gift of Christmas. Sometimes I think we need this reminder in December most of all!

Another good reason for this approach is that many of our neighbors need something from us this time of year and if we are too wound up in our own schedules, we may miss it. Some have lost loved ones; for some this may be their first Christmas without someone close that they have lost. Others may not have heat, or power, or food. It seems every year our Ministerial association finds out about someone who has no heat or food, but hasn’t told anyone. If we checked up on our neighbors, we might learn about the need and find those who can help. But if we don’t check, we don’t know. If you are in need, don’t be too proud to ask for help, it is limited but it is out there. And if you are feeling lonely this season, check out your local church, we would love to spend some time with you! We will not be waiting at the door with a signup sheet for work that needs to be done and we will not hand you a membership form before you sit down. We will however extend to you the love and grace of Jesus and welcome you in God’s name. My family and our church families wish all of you a truly blessed and merry Christmas!

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Peace begins at home


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

 

 

In December of 2001, the Jews of Afghanistan celebrated their first Hanukah free of the Taliban in almost a decade. It was a small celebration, for there were only two Jews left in the entire country; and each one celebrated alone.

At separate ends of a rundown synagogue in Kabul, Ishak Levin and Zebulon Simantov lit their candles and said their prayers. Both had survived Soviet occupation, Taliban atrocities, and the American-led invasion. Both prayed for the same things to the same God, and yet they could not share the same space.

Neither of the men could accurately remember what started their feud, but it had deepened and endured. Levin said, “For thousands of years our forefathers have celebrated these nights, and now Jews all over the world are celebrating.” And then speaking of his antagonist he said, “But with him, it’s not possible.”

A decade later Levin was dead, leaving Simantov alone. He is the only known Jew left in the country, living in a single room, alienated from his neighbors, estranged from his wife and daughters, cursing former friends, and demanding money or whiskey from reporters who come to interview him. He is a bitter, old man.

Zebulon Simantov may be alone in his dilapidated Kabul synagogue, but he is not alone in his animosities, even as the celebrations of Hanukah and Christmas are upon us. Untold thousands are at war with those around them, be it the army across the border, or their neighbors across the street. These holidays of shalom and peace aren’t enough to break this hold of ill will.

Yet, it will not always be this way. I believe the day will come when such hostilities will be put to rest, when the world will be at peace. Now, “you might say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” for this is the assurance of the Jewish prophets, the very hope of Advent, and the promise of all perennial faith traditions: There will be “peace on earth and goodwill toward all.”

Yet, I cannot simply wait for that promised peace to magically arrive. No, I have to practice peace, not allowing this world’s massive levels of toxicity to embitter or isolate me from others. I have to become “an instrument of peace,” as Francis of Assisi prayed, learning to overcome evil with good, beginning, at the place I call home.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

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Finding Peace in Strange Places


Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

 

As I progress through my earthly journey, I find a particular word and concept becoming more precious to me. Peace is such a beautiful word, and when it is a reality it is to be carefully cherished and guarded. Peace, whether it is spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial or any other way you choose to define it, is the cry of multitudes of people.

Many of us have our own pre-conceived ideas of what peace is, and we labor valiantly to make it a reality in our world. We feel that we have to have a certain set of ideals, which if met, will create a temporal peace which will satisfy this longing. It could be, that by doing so, we are basically putting God and His plan for our life in a box and missing the peace He is currently offering us.

Just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) (NKJV)

Our Lord knew that in a very short time these disciples would feel discouraged, disillusioned, and defeated. He was well aware that their world was about to be turned upside down and yet He promised that His peace would be with them. To some of Christ’s followers, peace was the overthrow of the Roman oppressors with some of them in key government positions and Jesus always around to provide a miracle if the need arose. They were about to learn that peace was not necessarily an idyllic existence, but rather a relying on the character and goodness of God to oversee their lives in unpleasant circumstances. I believe that same lesson applies to many people today.

The story is told of an art gallery that sponsored a contest years ago. A substantial financial prize was offered to whoever would paint a picture that best portrayed the concept of peace.

On the day of the judging the gallery was packed with curious spectators. By popular acclaim one particular picture was expected to take first place. The painting portrayed a little boy romping with his dog in a grassy meadow. The sun was shining, the little boy was smiling, and the dog looked content. To the minds of those gathered at the exhibit it was no contest, this surely had to win first place.

To everyone’s shock and consternation, however, the judges placed the coveted blue ribbon on what appeared to be a dark and foreboding painting. The artist had pictured on the canvas a rocky little island in the midst of a vast body of water. Dark storm clouds hovered above the craggy mass of land.  Lightning streaked the ominous darkness and violent waves beat upon the jutting rocks. It was a scene of desolation and despair.

Curious and even a bit put out, the crowd began to shout questions and comments to the judges. “How could you possibly award first place to a picture like this? Have you lost your minds? This is not peace, this is chaos!”

It was then that one of the judges walked over to the canvas and pointed to a small opening in the rocks that the crowd had overlooked. The artist had painted inside that small opening, the figure of a mother bird with her wings outstretched over her little brood of babies. In the midst of the storm, they were safe and content. The judge announced with a smile, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is peace!”

Friends, in a world that seemingly has gone mad, in circumstances that make no sense to us, the promise of Jesus to His disciples extends to all who know Him as Savior today. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.”

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Don’t Pray for Rain


Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

I’ve made a habit lately of studying the Amish. The Amish (and their cousins the Mennonites, Brethren, and a few other groups) are lovers and active makers of peace. They value simplicity above almost any other thing. They love their families and community, and they have a profound trust in God. This trust, employing a good Amish-German word, is called “Gelassenheit.”
“Gelassenheit” is usually translated as “submission” or “to yield,” but it is so much more. It is a total letting go. It is a relinquishment of the self. It is a “thy will be done” kind of life – not a blind, hopeless fatalism, but a defiant and restful faith in God. One Amish farmer summed up “Gelassenheit” saying, “We don’t pray for rain, but we are thankful to God when the rain arrives.” This perspective gives the Amish a completely different understanding of “the will of God” than most of the Christian universe.
Many of us have been taught that “God’s will” is this magic be-all-end-all, which, if discovered, can end all the angst and indecision of life. So we chase after and fret over what God wants us to do, thinking there will be complete and total disaster if we miss the secret plan he has for us. We twist and writhe in the anguish of our decisions, never feeling good about any choice we make.
Maybe we can take a cue from the Amish and neutralize the mystery of finding and doing God’s will. Maybe we can learn to simply trust God with our life and our circumstances. Maybe, if we keep hitting the wall, we can stop, listen, and trust for a while. Maybe we can learn to yield our own wills, or at least stop using God’s name to sanction our decisions.
Here is the thing the Amish can teach us: Rather than trusting an exact path and direction for your life, just trust God with your life. After all, God is bigger than your plans, stronger than your failures, and never fails to reward those who seek after him. You can find peace by quit trying to figure out what to do for God and simply rely upon God.
Meister Eckhart wrote: “God wants no more from you than you letting go of yourself. Then you can let God be God in you.” If that’s not God’s will, then I don’t know what is.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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