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December 6, 2020 – Advent Week 2

Peace can mean enduring strange and troubling times…

Peace is often defined as the absence of violence. But peace means more in Hebrew than it means in English. The word “peace” in Hebrew is “shalom,” and it implies peace, wellness, and also wholeness. We talked about hope last week, but this week is about peace.

Back in the 1950’s, the town of Aldermaston started out as a quaint village about 50 miles west from London, England. The world learned about the village because an atomic weapons research establishment was outside the city. As the Cold War escalated, opposition arose against the design and development of nuclear weapons. Around Easter of 1958, a protest march organized in London, and marched to Aldermaston. The Direct Action Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, or “CND,” is the group that organized that march.

CND started with a symbol with a cross inside a circle. But people saw the cross as a symbol associated with conflict and war. In the Crusades, soldiers marched with crosses on their armor or shields. One of the atomic A military chaplain had blessed one of the atomic bombs used in Japan.

So, to avoid that sentiment, CND designed a different symbol that would stand out during their march. If you use semaphore flags, you can make the letter “N” by moving both arms down at 45 degree angles. You can make the letter “D” with a hand straight up, and a hand straight down. The symbol begins to look like this:

This symbol is based on the semaphore flag motions
for “ND” or “nuclear disarmament”

The world begins in chaos in Genesis 1:1. The world was “formless and void,” which Hebrew translates as “tohu” and “bohu.” The Earth is formless and empty, and then God says “let there be light.” With just a few words, there are the beginnings of order instead of chaos.

God works in the mess to create order and peace. That’s the kind of peace we need in 2020, and in the strange times we’ve faced this year.

In 1st Kings 19:1-18, Queen Jezebel threatens the prophet Elijah, and he becomes so afraid he would rather die. God calls him to Mount Horeb, and appears to Elijah. There’s a windstorm, but it isn’t God. There’s an earthquake, and that’s not God. Finally, after a firestorm that also isn’t God, God comes as “the sound of a gentle whisper” (1st Kings 19:12).

Even in all the trouble, uncertainty, and chaos we see in our lives, God is still there in the peaceful sound of a gentle whisper.

Try to lean into the promises of God, and remember that we need to “be still” even in the present. This will pass. Do not worry or be afraid. Try to live in the moment, and be at peace.

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