“Peace on Earth. And mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.”
It’s from “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” with lyrics written by Charles Wesley (1707-88).
There are many carols that have references to peace and I think I enjoy them so much because couldn’t we all use more peace? Peace on earth. Peace from war. Peace from chaos. Peace in the body. Peace instead of stress. Peace in relationships.
These are all things I began to consider just before the end of last year. In fact, it became my word of the year for 2018. Do you have a word of the year?
Just prior to Christmas, I like to start thinking about a word that reflects my new year’s goals so that during festivities I can be mindful of the things I’d like to purge in my life and household in the upcoming year. I ask questions around my word like, What thoughts would bring me more peace? What ideas can I keep that will help me stay in peace? What things take away my peace?
During my consideration I found a word that summed up peace for me in a beautiful way. It’s the hebrew word “shalom”. It goes further than just a simple understanding of peace. You may have heard it as a greeting before, as it is commonly used as a greeting particularly among jewish communities and it’s more than just a hello or goodbye. It’s all encompassing. Consider the word “shalom” to refer to a perfect soundness, completeness and wholeness. For me the word summed up means completeness of peace in the mind, body and spirit. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance H 7965).
During my quest to remind myself of my word, I bought a large word decor and placed it on my mantel. Sure, it was gold and looked Christmassy but I kept it on my mantel for several months because it served as a good reminder and focus for me.
Next, I sorted through and challenged ideas and activities and stuff that didn’t bring me peace and guess what? I got rid of them. It’s a great feeling to do this by the way.
I began seeing changes in myself when I focused on my word of the year. In fact, my health overall has improved because guess what? Running happens to bring me peace. Eating whole, nutritious foods brings peace inside my body and prayer keeps my mind and spirit at peace. All of these changes happened because my choices aligned with my word of the year.
The gold in this process for me wasn’t just because of my choices though. Sure, I am proud of my hard work and focus this year, but the gold wasn’t there. The gold began as a whisper in my heart as a term commonly used in Christmas carols…. “Prince of Peace”. Then, the whisper became “He, himself is our peace” Where had I heard this before? Can a person embody the word peace, the word “shalom”, my word of the year?
“The Heaven born Prince of Peace” from the carol is referring to Christ. The whisper in my heart was referring to Christ as peace. And my thoughts began considering Christ as the embodiment of my personal peace. Scripture records Him saying to His followers, “Peace I leave 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 NJKV.
Here’s the gold, and it’s wrapped in the only perfect person ever… Jesus. He. Is. Peace. And He is the peace of Christmas. I have to work hard for peace and we have to work hard to bring peace to our unique situations yet the perfect wholeness and completeness of the word peace is embodied in Christ AND He gives it ….as a gift. That. is. HUGE.
So… my final holiday challenge to you could be to find your word of the year. I mean it’s a great idea. However, it’s not my challenge. My challenge is for you to consider the embodiment of peace… consider Christ.
Consider Adding more “Christ” to your Christmas
I’m not talking about getting a nativity, although some may find this addition a very smart focal point. I’m not asking you to add him as an ingredient like spice for your cookies either. I’m asking you to open your bible and read in Luke about his life, his birth, his passions, his ministry, his ideas about love, healing, forgiveness, government, giving and peace. I’m asking you to open your heart to Christ’s peaceful answers that are sure to come as whispers. I’m asking you to consider accepting the gift of peace from Christ himself. Don’t have a bible. Ask a friend. Ask me. Look it up online, in an app, or at the library.
Bonus: Wonderful news for my female friends… consider this about him: He absolutely loved, respected, elevated, protected and believed in women. Don’t believe me. Contact me and we can have a chat.
What I’ve discovered in my own considering of Christ this past year was born out of my “word of the year” and the need for less stress, more joy, peace and health. What I found in my quest was more of Jesus.
Thank you for joining me in my holiday challenge. Do yourself a favor and wrap yourself up in attention and love. Give yourself the much needed time outs, letting go of things and consider embracing the gift of wrapped peace Christ offers you.
Peace, love, joy, hope and laughter to all of you this season.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV