by Charlie Lyons-Pardue, Chaplaincy Ministries Assistant & Creative Arts Coordinator
The second week of Advent focuses on the theme of peace. I used to think that peace meant “calm” like when you sit on the porch of a remote cabin and everything is quiet. In that setting we often say “this so peaceful.” Or I thought peace meant “the absence of war or conflict,” as if the word peace just meant that people weren’t fighting or killing each other any more. Somewhere along my journey I encountered the hebrew word for peace, Shalom.
Shalom is a roomy word. It’s much bigger than the english word “peace.” Shalom means wholeness. Shalom means justice for everyone. Shalom means flourishing.
Shalom means things as they ought to be.
Shalom is a way of describing heaven, it describes the character of the Kingdom of God. I believe that God is cultivating Shalom all over our world. More often than not this Shalom is small and it doesn’t’ make the news. To borrow a metaphor from Jesus, it’s like a humble little seed that looks insignificant today but will one day grow up into a large mustard tree.
God is in the business of interrupting our broken world of self-destruction with Shalom. God delights in bringing wholeness where there is brokenness. God has a habit of sewing together restoration from the fragments of our ruins.
During the season of Advent we remember the God who came and made peace with us, the God who made the first move towards reconciliation and redemption. We remember the God who came humbly and fragile as a baby. We remember the God who invites us into a lasting and real peace.
We look forward to the day that Shalom is normal and not novel. During Advent we are reminded that the Shalom God started with Jesus, God will be faithful to finish in Jesus. We are reminded of our hope that Jesus will return and build a Kingdom of Everlasting peace.
During Advent we remember that we are called into the peace of God. We are called to actively do stuff to bring restoration and wholeness for our neighbors, our city, and creation. And perhaps most interestingly, we are called to actively work for the Shalom of our enemies.