This is the Advent week of peace, but I have to admit that I have not felt at peace. Advent is supposed to be a month of preparation for the Light coming into the world. We are to hope and find peace and joy and love one another. Most of us are consumed with the logistics of holiday travel and consumption masquerading as generosity. In this church, we are trying to move into the new building, which means wrangling with bureaucracy and digging down into the nitty-gritty of budgets and fabric patterns. All week, I have sat down to write this e-mail and each time it has evaded me.
At a personal level, being the point-person on the move takes its toll. It’s not that I can’t do it; it’s just that it is contrary to every part of who I really am. I know that no one really enjoys filling out forms and being told something different by each and every contact person at the city. But I know who I am. I’m made for big thoughts. I’m not even good at small talk. The result is that I feel fragmented.
I’m not saying this to complain – and if I had been able to think more clearly, I probably would have come up with something better to say in the church e-mail – but I think it speaks to our theme of peace. Whenever Jesus mentions “peace,” he is really saying shalom, which is more than just peace as we typically imagine it. Shalom is wholeness, completeness. For the individual, it encompasses physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional well-being. It is the opposite of fragmented. It is that space where we can let our defenses down, where we can be who we truly are. We do not fear judgment and we act boldly.
In the public sphere, shalom speaks to justice. We tend to speak of peace in the context of international relations, as the absence of war. But it is so much more than that. It first of all presumes that the true self of the individual can act in public without fear, that our wholeness can exist in the world without being trampled. Imagine if everyone felt that confidence and coherence, that honesty and vulnerability. Imagine if the world understood its own abundance and strove to make sure that everyone had everything they needed, to make sure that everyone was well cared for. How could war persist in the face of such compassion? How could injustice continue?
So I feel fragmented. I feel torn apart by the demands of the season. I feel torn apart by the world outside myself. I doubt that I’m alone.
Please join us this week at our new space, 11am at 1719 W. 10th St., as we discuss inner and outer peace: what it is; how to attain it; and our responsibilities for living with it. A small programming note: the service will be short. We still have no water and few chairs. Hopefully, that gets settled this week. Please bear with us while we create a home.
Grace & Peace,