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O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind,
O bid our sad divisions cease, and be for us the Prince of Peace

These words are the last verse of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  I have attached a version of the beloved hymn from YouTube featuring Joshua Aaron, a professional, Jewish, musician who lives in Israel. If you have a chance this week, I’d encourage you to listen to it (at least) twice – once watching the video and another time with your eyes closed just letting the music surround and wash over you. 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel             Click here to listen 

In Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent, Diane Houdek writes: Most of us want to be seen as strong and capable. We don’t want to be helpless and needy. We fear vulnerability. Paul’s advice to the Philippians is startling: “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.” He’s telling us that knowing God is near makes it safe to let our guard down. We don’t trust others and often we don’t even trust ourselves. If we’ve made bad choices in the past, we may not trust ourselves to make good choices. If we’ve been hurt, we instinctively protect ourselves from further harm. If our trust has been betrayed, we’re reluctant to trust again. It’s easy, even natural, to fall into these patterns of behavior. The Scriptures tell us again and again not to be afraid. God’s peace, Paul tells us, will guard our hearts and minds. Rejoicing in the Lord teaches us to see not only the times we have been hurt but also the many times we have been loved and sheltered and cherished. This season’s gentle challenge is to dwell on the good things in our lives, the precious memories, the reminders of God’s gracious love and mercy. It can be tempting to recall only the bad things in our past and to live in fear. But the Incarnation proclaims a return to the essential goodness in creation and in humanity. Being grateful for all that is good in our lives gives us a secure place to stand and a reliable shelter when the storms of life rage around us. We need to remember, as a dear friend once told me, “Sometimes when the storm rages, God calms the storm. But sometimes God can only calm the child because the storm must continue to rage.”   Let yourself be calmed today.”

Inner peace is both a gift to ourselves and to the world.  Jesus found inner peace by finding God in disorder and imperfection – telling us we must do the same or we will never be content on this earth.  This is wisdom.  Jesus’ wisdom doesn’t place things in either/or thinking which so often results in fight or flight mentality.    Jesus’ wisdom sees alternatives, sees the middle ground, is tolerant of ambiguity.  His wisdom, inner peace, was grounded in prayer and contemplation.  May we be blessed with the wisdom of inner peace and find our grounding in prayer and contemplation.

A Prayer For Strength

Oh God, Our God
Our Creator and our strength
Help us to understand your ways
And to accept that we were not meant
To understand all things,
Or control all things.
Help us please to accept in faith your will,
And live by your grace in hope and with joy.
It is hard Great Eternal One,
So hard for us to still our fretful minds
And trust in you as you have instructed.
We know we fall short
And we ask your forgiveness.
Please send us thy peace
And give us understanding
That we might imitate Christ
And live fully and without fear
Prayer by Beth Maxwell Boyle