This Sunday was the second in Advent. Unfortunately I was too busy to blog – but it was for a good reason. This Sunday, my home was filled with candlelight, cakes, coffee – and people! It was a lovely evening – friends, people from my church family (past and present), colleagues, and neighbours…including some people I’d never met before! Between us, we consumed vast quantities of cakes, chatted on all sorts of topics and generally enjoyed the evening. We also raised close to £300 to be shared with organisations working to make life a little better for some other strangers: refugees, the homeless and families who find themselves dependent on our local food bank.
It’s a good feeling.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for all it was a really busy evening and involved lots of frantic baking and organisation during the week, I enjoyed the whole thing! Peace is the focus for the second Sunday in Advent – and, despite appearances to the contrary, I felt a real sense of peace with a house full of people enjoying themselves!
Peace doesn’t mean the absence of war. Or a place without noise. Well, obviously it does mean those things, but it means something more. Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It’s the sense that everything is alright – even if it doesn’t appear to be.
Something I read recently included a reference to ‘life verses’: the writer’s family had a tradition of giving each child in the family a specific Bible verse. It made me smile because, while I don’t think it’s a real ‘tradition’ in my family, I’ve always felt very attached to the verse I was given when I got a new Bible on becoming a church member many years ago. I’m sure it’s one that many people feel very attached to:
Peace is about letting go, and letting God. That’s something I am trying to do more through Simplify 7. It’s a definite work in progress. But the more I do it, the more I realise the power of the peace that I experience. And who doesn’t need more peace in their lives?
A friend asked me the other day if I wasn’t actually complicating my life even more with some of the things I am doing. I could see her point. It might look that way from the outside, but I have the fortunate position of being able to feel what it’s like on the inside. Yes, my life is manically busy at the moment. There are not enough hours in the day and work is piling up. I feel exhausted…but I also feel hugely blessed.
Every time I want to eat one of the seven foods I am fasting from (and that happens surprisingly often!) I am reminded why I am fasting – and I feel blessed.
Every time I stop to pray on one of the seven themes I am praying for this month, I find myself praying for others, many of whom face huge struggles in life, and I feel blessed.
Every time I light a candle – a simple act that brings a new light into the world – I think about what we are waiting for. And I feel so blessed.
This Advent, I feel so much more present in this period of waiting. I can’t pretend to feel completely calm about everything that’s going on around me (despite the fact that a colleague told me this week I was doing a good impression of a swan floating serenely along while paddling away madly underneath!) but I do feel focused; I do feel that all will happen just as it should; that God has got it all under control. Much as I am looking forward to Christmas itself, I am enjoying the journey for itself.
I love the fact that such simple actions – prayer, lighting a candle, changing my diet, reading an Advent study book – can bring about such a change of heart. I love the fact that I’m sharing a little of that with others – and if even one person joins in (in any way) I love the fact it might make a difference to them too.
Sunday has been and gone, but I will continue to pray for peace (and hope). If you enjoyed the Sarah Bessey advent blog, here is the link to the next part.
In some traditions, the second candle in the advent wreath is also associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. And it didn’t take me long to realise how well this association works with the candle for peace. If ever there was a model for how to deal with life changing, potentially devastating and certainly terrifying news, Mary has got to win the prize!
“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” (Luke 1 v 38)
The perfect example of letting go, and letting God.
So, as I go on through another very busy week, I definitely need to continue to pray for peace: for myself, for my friends and family, for the world. And I’m blessed to know that it’s all in his hands.