Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace on Earth

This Advent, I have spent a lot more time and energy being joyful than being peaceful. Each weekend, I have had parties with friends, church events, and/or caroling with my beloved fellow choristers. I learned of a dear friend's pregnancy, shared chocolate with co-workers, and celebrated the presence of family in my life. But I must confess that all of this activity has left me little time for contemplating peace on earth.

My husband gave me a Christmas gift early- a DVD of Kung Fu Panda 2- and we watched it last night with his parents. In the movie, Po is troubled by his family origin while his master, Shifu, tries to teach him to find inner peace.

Master Shifu demonstrates inner peace.
Photo credit:

Even though an evil peacock is trying to conquer China and chaos is all around him, Po manages to find peace anyway, with the help of his friends and mentors. Unfortunately, I am usually a lot more like Po than Shifu when it comes to peace.

I realized last night that I have not been a peaceful person recently. While I have the "peace that passes all understanding," a gift of the Holy Spirit to all Christians, I have not really been acting like it. I have been stressed, and at times, troubled. I wonder if my friends' experience of my Christmas cheer has been tainted by this stress. I wonder how they might find Christ in Christmas better if I were a more peaceful person to be with. When they listen to my life, do they hear, "Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled"? Yet how do I let the peace of Christ shine through all of the other "stuff" in my heart?

For me, I don't think the answer is a special revelation from my past like Po had. It's a decision on my part to let go of the things that stress me out, don't let my problems bother me so much, and let these things roll of my shoulders rather than dwell on them.  My own mental focus becomes what I project to others, and my witness will improve if my attitude improves.

Peace on earth is God's promise to us, and it is also something in which we participate and which we bring about in in our own lives. Part of living the Christian life is learning to focus on God's blessings, and to let our worries and negative thoughts float away like leaves on a river.  This is a lot easier to write about than it is do, but with God's help, I know I can do it.

How have you experienced God's peace in your life this holiday season?

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