The Peace

Call: The peace of God be with you
Reply: And also with you
Together: Amen

In the midst of disquiet, the Spirit has led me to spend time on Philippians 4: 4-9.

Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you. (The Voice)

Joy, I think, is a step ahead of peace. It seems to me that you cannot have joy without first being at peace. And so while Paul clearly calls on us to rejoice, he took time to show us how to find peace.

I’m sure most of us are familiar with Paul’s advice. Don’t empower anxiety. Rather, take the time to empower peace. And you do this in faith: sharing with God everything on your heart and being thankful for what has come. (I did the first but neglected the second) And as this reality grows because you empower it, you will know the peace of God who is present.

And then you move further, away from the ugliness that has caused you to cry to God in the first place, to fill your minds with the beauty that envelopes his Person. And you then bring the God of peace with you wherever you go.

It brings to my mind this simple ritual of announcing peace to another.

Call: The peace of God be with you
Reply: And also with you
Together: Amen

To be honest I usually cringe when asked to do this in church. But that is because it has been an empty ritual to me.

But in these days of my disquiet, it is the Spirit who announced peace into my gloom.

And I realised I had been caught in a spiral of anxiety and dispair because I felt that this is the appropriate response to the circumstances.

Sometimes we have to dispense with many words and explanations and just announce peace to a fellow Christian. Because no words or explanations can make the situation better. Sometimes the situation is beyond our understanding. But peace is always necessary and lifts the situation. And we need to break through our rational searching and just receive that peace that is beyond human understanding.

So I reached out and texted my friend, “The peace of God be with you.” And he replied, “Thank you very much.”

The full ritual, of course, is for my friend to reply, “And also with you.”

And that would be a step further because it not only acknowledges my need as well, but it also accepts the truth of the first announcement.

Of course I’m not going to require my friend to respond accordingly. His response is good enough for me.

But perhaps the Church needs to help one another understand the ritual and practise it meaningfully and frequently, to bring peace into each other’s heart and mind. And to share not only each other’s pain and disquiet, but also the peace of God, and the God of peace, as we both say “Amen.”

The peace of God be with you.

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