Preparing For Worship – Jenna Sullivan, pastoral resident.
Today we light the candle of peace. In my more honest moments, I wonder how a small flickering candle could really change a thing. The world is aching still. And the rush toward strings of twinkling lights and shopping lists doesn’t feel peaceful to me. I wonder where God is amid it all. I wonder what real peace would even feel like. I am tempted to smile politely as the candle is lit today while my own skepticism within burns just a little brighter. Surely chaos will remain.
Perhaps you too face a temptation to go through the motions this Advent season. You wonder what good it does to make room for a thing called peace. You are not alone. The person next to you on the pew surely carries doubts here too. But these pews can hold your doubts. These walls we return to for shelter each week can hold every part of you. Together, perhaps we can choose something other than our fiery skepticism.
The truth is that God’s peace already exists and is transforming the world. Are you willing to enter into it and dwell for a while? For this hour of worship, I encourage you to land softly in a peace that passes all understanding. Let the busy holiday plans wait. Let your urgent thoughts slow. Nothing is more important than spending time with God. Here. Now. Peace is mostly about presence. There is nothing more peaceful than bringing your full attention to this moment. God is always present with us. God is not hurried. God is not rushed.
Maybe it is just one candle. Maybe it is only a comforting ritual. Or, maybe, it is the beginning of something beautiful. Maybe God really does still change the world with a mysterious peace. Maybe what seems to us to be small and ordinary is actually quite extraordinary. Just one small flame. Just one small child. And somehow, the world is never the same.
Hang your twinkling lights. Go on your shopping trips and complain about the traffic. Take your morning trip down the rabbit hole of dreadful news. But don’t forget to cultivate peace too. I promise it is much brighter and warmer. Eternal peace is here. It is coming into fullness in the living spirit of Christ. God longs for you and me to rest in something other than angsty panic. God longs to bring us peace. Let us accept that peace and practice today by lighting this candle together. Watch it flicker, and say hallelujah.