What brings me Peace?

A reflection from Amy Baker, a member of the LIFE UMC Communications Lead Team.

“Singing glory, glory. Let there be peace, let it start in me.”

These words from the song “Glory” by Matt Maher we’ve been singing in our worship services during the Advent season make me think of how I explain peace.

Over the past year, I have traveled a lot for work. Every time I board a plane, I hear the safety instructions about what happens if a loss of cabin pressure causes the oxygen masks to drop down: “Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

I think peace also works that way. We have to find our own peace to be able to share it. It’s not that we prioritize our self-care for selfish reasons. It’s that cultivating and recognizing our own peace increases our capacity to help others nurture their own peace, making us all stronger together. “Adjust your own mask before helping others.” 

Spreading peace from ourselves, to those around us — that’s how we change our communities and the world. In what ways can we share peace?

Having the peace of Christ is such a wonderful gift that’s open to all of us if we accept it, but it’s also hard to explain to my friends who are still searching. (And it’s OK to still be searching.) All I know is that I’ve been through two really difficult times in my life, and one of them was exponentially more difficult because I didn’t have that peace. To me, it’s a no-brainer because I lived the difference. That’s what I mean by saying I think we have to recognize our own peace, to value it so it can grow and spread (more like a candle flame, less like the flu). I want everyone to have that peace that Pastor Larry talks about, that even when big things go wrong, we are secure in the knowledge that “the worst thing is never the last thing.” 

Forgiveness also plays a large role in growing our own peace and giving peace. Ephesians 4:32 says: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Isn’t “tenderhearted” a great word? I am grateful for the billions of times in my life I have made mistakes and have been forgiven by coworkers, friends, family and God. Forgiving myself is often the hardest part, but I am still learning to accept and embrace that peace and move forward in confidence. I hope I offer that same lightening of the burden for others when I have the opportunity. Forgiveness generates powerful peace.

Have you ever been in the drive-thru line at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, and you pull up to the window to find out the person in front of you paid for your order? That’s happened to me a couple of times, and at least once I was so shocked by this unexpected generosity that I forgot what I was supposed to do, to pay it forward. “Be kind to one another.” I’d like to live in a world where kindness is the expectation, not such a surprise. Sharing kindness increases our peace. In this season of gift giving, I want to be more kind, more thankful, more forgiving and more willing to share peace.

“Let there be peace, let it start in me.” “Adjust your own mask before helping others.” “Be kind to one another.”

Find Out Why “Ferdinand” Is So “Love-a-Bull” with LIFE UMC “At the Movies”

This week Tag Team Movie Reviewers Nicholas Angelo and Amy Baker give you the scoop on the last movie in the LIFE UMC “At the Movies” series. You can watch “Ferdinand,” rated PG, starring the voice talent of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale and more at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the church. Admission is free and open to the public. There will be popcorn!

NICHOLAS: I still prefer live-action to animated “Spider-Man,” but I have to say “Ferdinand” was a good movie. I really enjoyed it!

AMY: I’m glad, Nicholas. I thought it was cute, but I am still really partial to Disney movies with princesses.

NICHOLAS: I don’t usually have that desire. Teachers love Disney too much.

AMY: So, what did you like most about “Ferdinand,” the story of a bull with the voice of John Cena who looks large and scary but is all heart and likes flowers more than fighting. He ends up being separated from his family and finds an unlikely group of friends on an adventure to get back home.

NICHOLAS: I liked that the movie was so creative. Somebody said, “I’m going to make a movie about a bull who doesn’t want to fight.” That’s really original.

AMY: My favorite character was the goat Lupe with the voice of Kate McKinnon from “Saturday Night Live” fame.

NICHOLAS: Yes, Lupe was hilarious! She was a “calming goat” for the bulls who were being held to fight in the ring with the matador. All the bulls in the pen where she lived dreamed of being selected to leave and find glory in the ring with the matador. What they didn’t realize was that it was certain death. 

AMY: There’s definitely some sadness to this movie. Ferdinand’s father died fighting against the matador. Ferdinand is separated from his adopted family, a little girl and her father on a safe farm where he is loved. Lupe’s crazy brand of humor gives you something to laugh about.

NICHOLAS: Lupe is my favorite. She’s always saying, “I’m a lady” or “I’m a calming goat and nobody cares about me.” She has some crazy eyes and she runs around and does a really funnyscreaming goat cry. There are some parts of the movie that are laugh out loud funny. There are three hedgehog characters named Uno, Dos and Quatro.

AMY: Their big punchline is, “We don’t talk about Tres.” That made me giggle, for sure. There’s also a pretty entertaining horse and bull dance battle.

NICHOLAS: I got into the story. When Ferdinand ends up with the bulls waiting to fight the matador, he meets some bull friends he knew when he was young. They are all excited about fighting, but Ferdinand just wants to smell flowers. Bulls that aren’t thought to be good enough to fight are sent to the “chop house.” 

AMY: And nobody wants to go there.

NICHOLAS: Eventually, Ferdinand finds the courage to lead a mission to save his friends Guapo and Valiente who were taken to the chop house. The good news is he gets there in time, and they are all alive. 

AMY: Ferdinand is successful in helping his friends escape, but he is caught and has to go face to face with the matador. Not to totally ruin the ending for you, but he uses his peaceful ways to avoid death and destruction.

NICHOLAS: And they all live happily ever after at the farm with the little girl sniffing flowers. I highly recommend this one. I think they could make a “Ferdinand 2.” He could have another adventure.

AMY: If there is a sequel, I’ll need to see more Lupe the goat.

NICHOLAS: “Ferdinand” has a great lesson. You can be whoever you want to be. Just because he was a bull, everyone wanted him to fight. He was a flower sniffer. You can decidewho you want to be.

AMY: That’s pretty powerful stuff. And just like that, the LIFE UMC “At the Movies” series for this summer is at an end.

NICHOLAS: I’d really like to keep doing these movie reviews throughout the year. Do you think we can do that?

AMY: Absolutely! We’ll change up our pace so we’ll have one column a month instead of once a week, but we’ll keep going. It’s been really fun to be your Tag Team partner, Nicholas!

NICHOLAS: Thank you! I have enjoyed it, too. We will keep going. Great! I guess there’s nothing left to say except, see you next month “At the Movies.”