Friday 04 December 2020
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
My family has roots that go back into Northern Ireland. I can always remember as a boy staying at my aunty and uncles house in Belfast when the troubles started. My family were clearly worried as the army had moved in and helicopter after helicopter passed over the house for days and the streets were filled with soldiers and army vehicles and we had to cut short our visit. The division and violence escalated for many years and in ways that are still felt today, but thankfully a peace treaty known as the Good Friday Agreement, was signed on, 10 April 1998. The agreement has brought relative peace and stability to the province and even scenes like Ian Paisley a unionist sat next to Martin McGuiness a former IRA member sharing a joke and laughing together as well sharing power in government. There are so many stories and examples of forgiveness, and projects for reconciliation have brought beauty into the ugliness of division, hatred and darkness.
Jane and myself visited Belfast a few years ago for a friend’s wedding. On our last day we took a tour on a bus and it was still clear to see that the community is still deeply divided firstly by the original peace wall that separated the Unionist and republican communities, secondly whilst huge strides have been made to heal the divisions most of the schools were still divided by the religion of the children.
The Prince of Peace
As we continue in this season of Advent, we light the second candle which is the PEACE CANDLE as we remember that one of the names given to the coming Saviour is the Prince of Peace. The bible has a very different understanding of what peace means, in the Bible the word used in the Old testament is SHALOM which means completeness or wholeness, the situation in the North of Ireland is not yet at Shalom there is a cessation of conflict, but a journey is taking place to wholeness, healing and cooperation. Shalom peace would mean not just an end to fighting but both communities fully integrated without underlying hate and suspicion, and working fully together and then the peace process would be complete.
Jesus is called in the Prince of Peace (Shalom) as he is bringing wholeness and peace to individuals, in our relationships with others, but the most importantly peace with God himself and ultimately complete peace in our world. As we look forward to the completion, we live by the promises of God that even in difficult times, when our life feels like its falling apart, when we are anxious the Lord promises His peace to his People Psalm 29:11 — "The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
And why? Because Jesus Christ himself is our peace His presence alive within us gives us the peace that is promised.
No God, no peace; know God, know peace.