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.”

What brings me Joy?

A reflection from Chris Ward. Chris is a member of our Communications Lead Team and is a crucial player in the production of our weekly livestream events.

One thing that brings me joy is making other people laugh. I feel that there are way to many stressors in this world to take things too seriously. In a time that everyone is under constant pressure, its nice to see someone laugh, and for that moment the stress is gone.

Another thing that brings me joy is volunteering here at LIFE.  We strive to make this experience the best we can.  Every Sunday we are aiming to do something that will make people notice the good things we are doing here.  And it brings me Joy is to see the people here enjoy and appreciate the hard work that everyone in the Worship team and the Production team puts forth every week.

What brings me Love?

These are some of the experiences that bring me Love:

·         Feeling the presence of God

·         Hugs from my Granddaughter

·         My Granddaughter boldly reciting the Lord’s Prayer beside me at church

·         Sharing God’s word with my Son and Daughter

·         Cuddling with my fur babies

·         Witnessing an unsolicited act of kindness

LIFE Church brings me unconditional Love:

·         Come as you are – no conditions

·         All are welcome – no exceptions

·         The passionate messages delivered by Larry and Amber and reminders that we are all children of God and Loved

·         The highly spirited and talented music performed by the worship team

·         The community outreach (food pantry, angel tree, etc.)

·         The welcoming congregation members

What brings me Hope?

A reflection from Nicholas Angelo, a LIFE Youth and member of the LIFE Communications Lead Team

What brings me hope is a few things. The people in my life are a big part of the hope I feel each day. Seeing and talking to the ones who love me,  make me feel upbeat and positive.  Their encouragement helps to keep pushing me forward when I’m feeling down. I feel very blessed to have been given such great people in my life.

Another big part of my hope is my church and my faith. I feel like an important part of my church community and that makes me feel hopeful. I know we do a lot through our church to help others and that makes me feel good because I know it brings joy to them. 

Another thing that brings me hope are some of my teachers who have made me feel important. They are patient and kind and take the time to help me when I need it. This helps me feel hopeful within my day at school.

Hope to me is important. With hope you feel like you can handle whatever life brings your way.