But plenty of distractions though!
The daily office reading today leads us to Isaiah 48 and there we find that wonderful expression:
‘There is no peace’, says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’
What would we consider to be the greatest problems people have these days?
It isn't jobs (although there's few enough of them about!);
It isn't relationships (and there are more than enough of them and not all are exclusive!);
It's not even money (and some will never have enough of it regardless);
The greatest need I encounter is that of peace.
Now Jesus, in John 14, tells us that He gives us His peace. A peace that the world cannot understand nor overcome. The problem, for some, is that there is a bit of a catch in the words that precede this promise:
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.
These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you."
Better still are the words that follow this promise though:
"I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Today, as the Church remembers the life and ministry of John of the cross I am reminded of these words:
“Abide in peace, banish cares, take no account of all that happens, and you will serve God according to his good pleasure and rest in him.”
Living in God's peace doesn't mean the stresses and strains of daily life are taken from us, nor does it remove us from the encounters and circumstances that trouble us, but (as 1 Corinthians says of love) it builds a habitation for us in the storms of life; a shelter where we can find that presence of God in our own little sacred space.
As Christmas rushes in and the pressures of buying presents pushes out God presence; and the strains of preparing for guests (or to be a guest) make their demands we think of those who will face their first Christmas without a loved one at the table; as we proclaim the prince of peace's coming we look and see a world where peace is a rare blessing (I have an answer for that though).
May the Peace of God and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit touch and bless us all.