Advent blessings! The last finals have been taken, grades are turned in, the break is coming! I have loved being around campus today. You can feel the campus exhaling together. For many of us today, peace feels so close that we can reach out and touch it.
Today’s devotional, written by Dr. C. David Grant, reminds us that God’s peace is not just for us but for our neighbors, our world, and for all of creation. Dr. Grant has served on the faculty of TCU as a religion professor for the past 30 years. Dr. Grant holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Here at TCU, he directed the University’s Honors Program from 1988–94 and has been recognized with numerous teaching awards, including the Honors Program Faculty Recognition Award in 1995, given by the honor students to a faculty member “for outstanding contributions to the intellectual life of the University.” In addition to his academic work, Dr. Grant is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is also a proud grandfather of two wonderful new granddaughters! I have heard many students of Dr. Grant, both current and alumni, remark on how he pushed them to be better writers and thinkers and helped to bring their best selves forward. I know Dr. Grant best through his daughters, and know what an incredible father and grandfather he is.
Through his teaching, writing, service and love to his family, church, and the world, Dr. Grant empowers others. May his words today empower each of us to work for God’s peace and justice for all of creation.
God’s peace to you, Allison
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth, peace, good will among people.’” Luke 2:13-14
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
The author of Luke’s gospel tells us that the heavenly host proclaimed “peace on earth, good will among people” at the announcement of the birth of Jesus. Our images of the baby Jesus, resting quietly among the animals in the stable with his adoring mother and Joseph kneeling by the manger, easily feed our notion that Advent ought to be a time of restful prayer and quiet meditation.
But the Bible’s notion of peace isn’t simply about rest and quiet, nor even absence of conflict. Peace is about wholeness, completeness, fulfillment. When I was youth growing up in my Methodist congregation, the pastor would pronounce the same benediction every Sunday: “And now may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always.” I always puzzled about that phrase “God’s peace, which passes all understanding.” I thought I understood peace; it meant the absence of war. But the peace of God is not the worldly understanding of peace. It’s not about the absence of conflict but the wholeness that is God’s intent for creation, the wholeness that comes when our love for God manifests itself as justice throughout God’s creation. That sort of peace is not always restful and quiet. Sometimes it requires that we go out to be God’s people in the world, that we fight injustice, that we hurt with those who hurt, cry with those who cry, and suffer with those who suffer. Moreover, it means we must turn away from concern about ourselves to proclaim to the world the good news of God’s salvation, God’s healing, in our deeds as well as our words. We can only find peace within ourselves when we bring wholeness to others. Only when true peace, goodwill among people, is present in our world can God be truly glorified. Only then will the promise of that babe born in a manger be fully incarnated in our world.
Gracious God, Creator of life and Redeemer of humankind, in this Advent season remind us that your peace does indeed surpass our understanding. Enable us to proclaim the wholeness of your salvation in our world through our words and deeds. May we be incarnations of your grace and love in our sometimes graceless and loveless world, to the end that your kingdom of peace may come upon this earth. Amen.
C. David Grant