Advent day 15: Real Peace

“… the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-7

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Pause, Ponder, Prepare

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Advent day 9: A new kind of love

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

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Today I encountered a woman selling the Big Issue outside Waitrose in my village. She was standing in the cold in flimsy shoes and thin socks, yet she still had a smile for me because I stopped. I was embarrassed because I had no change and told her I’d get some from the car. She nodded and wished me a Merry Christmas, clearly thinking I was making my excuses and a quick get way. Her surprise when I returned was apparent and her gratitude disproportionate to the few pounds I gave her.

All day her frozen feet in their flimsy coverings have been on my mind. So imagine my surprise when I found an advent reflection in my inbox from Rethink church, challenging us to carry little ‘care’ packages of food around in our cars in case we see someone in need Rethink church .

And then I also reflected on today’s verses. This wonderful prayer that love would abound and that we would be filled with the fruit of righteousness. The fruits are shown on my picture (Galations 5:22-23). When we show these fruits which are the outcome of a true and deep relationship with Christ, we will find our hearts stirred to respond with loving kindness to all those in need; to do so in an intentional way, whether through carrying a ‘care’ package, or by speaking out against injustice and oppression even when it costs us to do so.

We must never forget that Jesus said …

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

And he also said …

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

As we wait for Jesus to come, where might we be missing seeing him now?

Pause, Ponder, Prepare

Peace

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Where do you find peace for your soul?
I love the seaside. I know it’s November and most of us are experiencing cold and rain tucked up at home rather than warm, sunny days at the beach.
I was looking through my art journal and came across these two paintings, one from summer 2013 and one from this summer.

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It’s nice to look at them and recall being there … Hearing the crash of the waves … Smelling the seaweed … Feeling the sun and the sea breeze on my face. I was on holiday. I didn’t have to think about work, or chores, or my never-ending ‘to do’ list. I could relax and enjoy being there, in the moment, feeling at one with the world and completely at peace.

It’s good to have places we can go that we can relax and be refreshed and find an inner peace. But what is more important is to be able to feel peace, wherever we are and in whatever we do. And that’s why, for me, I find my ultimate peace in God.

God understands my earthly experience because he experienced it himself in human form as Jesus, and yet he also transcends that earthly experience, allowing me to connect through the Spirit with the God who created everything. This is what gives me peace..

…peace because I know I am not alone …

“the peace of God which passes all understanding”. Philippians 4:7

… peace because I know God loves me …

” ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10