A number of years ago, we took my daughter and her children camping inAlgonquinPark. On our last day, Tom and our two grandsons, ages 5 and 9, hurried off to the Beaver pond at dusk, the best time to see the beaver’s. They forgot to take a flashlight. As they returned, darkness descended.
Tom tells the tale. “It was so black in the woods, we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. Without a flashlight, we stepped off the rough narrow path, and couldn’t find it again. We were lost. I hung tight to the boys hands and shuffled to what seemed to be a dry place. We flopped down on a bed of pine needles. “If we have to,” I reassured the boys, “We can stay here all night. Once the sun comes up we’ll be able to walk towards the sound of the cars and the highway. … Let’s sing. It will help someone find us.” I thought, it will keep wild animals away. And so we waited. I prayed and found peace. I knew it was important to stay put. I put my trust in God. Three hours later the forest rangers rescued us.
When we light the Advent candle of peace, we look forward to more than the absence of war. We’re looking for God’s shalom. Individual peace amidst whatever is happening in our lives. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you…my peace I give you., not as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) This kind of individual inner peace requires acceptance, not necessarily endurance but acceptance. Only after we truly accept that the chaos, the violence exists, can we begin to move through it to new life. It’s new life that soldiers fight for in the horrors of war. It’s new life that environmentalists are fighting for in the slime of pollution. It’s new life that doctors are fighting for as they combat illness. It’s new life that we look for even as death descends. That new life requires three things,
- Acceptance that the situation exists
- Trust in God’s presence and support
- Action to do what we can do.
When we follow these three steps we will receive the peace God offers us at Christmas and throughout the year.