New Perspectives: A Peaceful presence by Rev. Heather McCarrel

Photo by James Wheeler/Pexels

The world is full of things that boggle my mind and are beyond my understanding.  For example, I have never understood FAX machines.  How can a few words on a piece of paper travel over wires and arrive on another piece of paper 100 miles away?  Or, why can’t I hum while holding my nose (you just tried, didn’t you?) and why is Earth the only planet in our solar system not named after a God?  Who named Earth in the first place?

There are so many questions with so few answers. As my trips around the sun accumulate I have become more comfortable with the unknown, trusting in the fact there is a God who knows all the answers.  This God provides a peace that goes way beyond our understanding; a peace that holds us together when all around us is falling apart.  I don’t understand it, but I have learned to trust in it.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)

This peace does not promise there will be no conflict, hardships or grief.  Instead this God-given peace will hold us together with the powerful knowledge we are not alone.  God is with us, despite whatever we are facing.  As Jesus tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (Jon 14:27)

Take Mother Mary for instance, at the young age of 12 she is visited by an angel who shares the startling news that Mary will become pregnant and bear a son.  As if it isn’t shocking enough to be visited by an angel Mary also has to adjust to the news that she, an unwed virgin girl, will soon become pregnant and give birth to not just any baby but God’s only begotten son.  Talk about mind boggling!

One of the things that intrigues me about this story is how Mary goes from asking, “How can this be?” to declaring, “Let it be.”

How do we find our way, like Mary, to say “let it be”? I am not suggesting that getting there is easy or quick, but I think Mary shows us how to journey to “let it be”.  She doesn’t avoid the storm that lies ahead; instead she enters the eye of the storm, allowing the chaos of emotions, relationships, and circumstances, swirl all around her. She does this by depending on God to lead her through the storm.

Out of Mary’s story we see a confidence amidst crisis which is the mark of a mature faith. She has heard the deep meaning of “Be not afraid.” It is a message of assurance that through the wilderness, or the grief, or in the middle of chaos, along the journey we are not alone. It is that sense of God -with-us which is the profound message of Christmas. It is a love and peace that dwells deep in our souls.

This week as we light the Second Advent Candle, the Candle of Peace, may we all trust in the Prince of Peace to accompany us with a calm and peaceful presence.