Pursuing Peace Carol Ashworth
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all [d]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [e]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [f]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (NASB) Philippians 4:6-9
Recently, I have dwelt on this passage (Philippians 4:6-9) a lot. As a chaplain, I often pray for people to know “the peace that passes all understanding,” because in times of health struggles or the death of a loved one, peace often seems the one thing people want but can’t seem to find.
It is not only in times of illness or loss, however, that peace seems difficult to grasp. In our current political / social environment, it is as hard to be at peace within ourselves as it is to live in harmony with others. When you combine personal struggles, challenges and goals, peace seems a remote concept. Yet we hunger for it as if God wrote the desire for it into our very DNA.
So we come to Advent and the Christmas season. Everywhere we see the words “Peace on Earth – Good will to man.” We are called to visit the manger of the baby who is the Prince of Peace. We hear messages of peace while singing “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”; while shopping, celebrating, sending out cards, cleaning, cooking and baking, yet peace is not present.
How can we really find peace, in the midst of the chaotic, tumultuous, busy, sometimes ugly world that is our home for the present? I think Paul suggests an excellent starting point – “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Here in this Advent season, may we spend time dwelling on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, reputable, excellent, praiseworthy good news of a baby who is God with us, who came to bring us abundant life, who poured out his love on everyone he met, and calls us to do the same. We can see the reminders everywhere. Will we take the time to dwell on them?