Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Quiet Peace: Be Still and Know

About the author: Emily Norman serves as a Director of Christian Education in the Lutheran church, specifically she is currently serving at Grace Lutheran Fellowship in Romeo, MI. 

I really love the Advent and Christmas season, but I really dislike what our culture has dubbed “the holidays.” What I mean, is that I really have an aversion to all the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays and the insistence that it is all about big, extravagant gifts and being insanely busy. For me, as a leader in ministry, I dread it because the church is not exempt from this consumerism. As an introvert, I dread it even more because it feels loud and chaotic. 

Being a leader in the church, there are many activities that happen during the Advent season. There are Wednesday meals and Advent worship, along with classes for the junior and senior high, as well as children’s church. The big event for the children comes in the preparation for the annual Christmas program. For the last several years, our church has also participated in an event called “A Night in Bethlehem.” As you can imagine, this is not a quiet preparation for Christmas celebration, but rather it’s busy and stressful on all those involved. I find irony in this, because although it brings excitement to our Christmas celebration, it causes chaos rather than peace and only blinds us from a focus on Jesus. 

This year, however, things have changed. Many of the normal activities were cancelled due to the busyness. While in some ways, this is unfortunate, it is a blessing because we can focus our thoughts and prayers on the quiet peace that does exist, though is often hidden, in our Advent preparation. 

More specifically, I have faced some turmoil this Advent season in a relationship, which has caused me to seek God’s peace more fervently. It’s inevitable that we are sinful beings, and in any relationship, tensions will arise. A difficult situation occurred just this week and brought me to the point where all I could do was lay the burden at God’s feet and ask for His peace. 

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 

Every year, I long for an opportunity to sit in the quiet and enjoy the coming of Jesus, which is what Advent is all about. This Advent, through a series of unexpected happenings, I was able to participate in worship and really seek not only God’s peace, but the message of hope that comes with it! Just last night the message was entitled, “His peace for our turmoil”. God’s timing is not by chance. 

Psalm 46:10 is churning often in my mind: “Be still and know that I am God.”

“Be STILL…” What does that even look like? How can I do that, when everyone around me is doing the complete opposite? 

It’s always a challenge to not get wrapped up and swallowed by the demanding schedules, shopping lists, party planning, etc…But, it’s amazing to me what happens when I stop and just take in the stillness God provides in the midst of all the hurry. 

“…AND” Well, as least there is more! God could have stopped at us stopping, but then what do we do? We live in a culture where we need a reason for our actions. I’m sitting quietly, but now what? God desires us not just to stop, but to stop and turn to Him. 

“…KNOW that I am God.” Oh, ok! He is in control. But the world around me tells me to “Take control!” How do I combat that mantra? The gods we are worshipping are in the stores and sales and wish lists. But the one true God is bigger and knows us better than anyone can. Our true peace comes from God’s love, not the love of material things. 

I need God’s quiet peace this season. I need to sit in His presence and enjoy the Advent of our Savior. I need to get to know more fully this God that loves me so much that He sent His son into my world. 

The provider of peace has come to us in the most unexpected way: a baby born in Bethlehem. 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6