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.”