From the Desk of Pat Farrell, Director of Spiritual Development…

Peace.

This is a word that has lost much of it’s meaning in the world around us. This is a real serious issue for all people, all cultures, all faiths – an even people who say they have no faith.   Yet this gift from God is essential to our very existence. Without it our souls are not healthy.

“Peace” is a biblical term. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for peace is shalôm. Literally, it means “to be complete or whole”.  There are many places where peace is addressed in the New Testament as well. But, perhaps, the simplest, yet clearest statement is found in John 14:27, where Jesus says ”  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” This, really is the ultimate peace – to be in right relationship with God, through His great gift to us.

But how do we understand this- and live it out in our daily lives? I consulted some of my “experts” on this topic, the fifth grade students. I sat down with them at lunch and asked what “peace” meant to them. They told me many different things- but they all had a common thread. They said that “peace” getting along with people and respecting them for who they are ( a deep insight for 10 year olds).  They further told me that peace meant people coming together to welcome and help one another. And, finally, I was told that real peace comes from God, through Jesus. They also said that Christmas is a special time of peace. When I asked them why it is hard maintain a “Christ-like” peace all year long, one young lady reminded me that there is evil in the world – and we must be aware of that all the time and work against it. That might be a little easier to do at Christmas because of all the reminders, but it is our “job” all year long. What wisdom!

So this week, as a family activity, I would suggest a simple activity,  that can be meaningful all year long. I trust you are continuing your Advent wreathes. Before this prayer time on Sunday , cut out some star shapes and ask each person to write or draw a picture (for the little ones) of what peace means to them. Then each day of the week ask what each person has done to be peaceful. Have each person make a star for each day.. continue this practice throughout the rest of Advent. String the stars together and put them on your Christmas tree as decorations. Then when the tree comes down, put this string of stars in a prominent place and add to it throughout the year. That will help us remember to be people of peace.