I sat with my prayer beads in my hands. I can’t remember what each bead is supposed to represent, but I chose them for their colours and shapes and when I move them through my fingers they connect my mind to things outside myself. I made them when I ran a prayer stall at a ‘Mind, Body, Spirit Fayre’. They’ve been lost for a while, but last week I found them in a forgotten pencil case. This morning as I held them I was sitting in church, in the back row. The back row that is actually 10 feet behind the actual back row. The back row that leans against the rear wall of the room. It’s where I sit. I’m there but only just.
I’ve been fighting anxiety for the past week, and it’s robbed me of my peace. There were no particular reasons – life was no more difficult this week than in the preceeding weeks – but I think I was looking at my present, and my future, and feeling that somehow I don’t deserve to be enjoying so many good things, and in particular the love of the people who love me. I was thinking myself unworthy. I was dwelling on my past.
But my past has been dealt with. I am not my past. Nor are you. It’s not the whole story.
The speaker’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
‘Don’t let your mind stay on things and people that disrupt your peace. Let your mind think on God.’
A timely reminder. I’ve been living with disrupted peace.
‘My peace I give to you’
The speaker reminded us of the words Jesus spoke to his disciples before he left them. The peace he spoke of was not peace in a ‘nothing will ever ruffle you way’, but peace meaning wholeness. The word that’s translated as peace is ‘shalom’. The root meaning of the word is, complete, perfect, whole. It also encompasses health, peace, welfare, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest, harmony, blessing, the absence of agitation or discord, and grace.
Brene Brown, the American researcher, writes about people who do what she calls ‘whole hearted’ living. The thing that she has discovered they have in common with each other is that they believe themselves to be worthy of love. It’s that which gives them wholeness.
I will have shalom, peace, when I am able to believe that I am worthy of love.
So today on this second Sunday of Advent, when the candle we light is for peace as we remember the God who came as a baby, I say that I believe that I am worthy of love.
This is not arrogance. I’m not ignoring all the bad things about myself.
Wholeness, believing I am worthy of loved, and that I am loved, is a gift from God.
It’s nothing to do with me – who I am or what I’ve done.
It’s the gift of peace and I’m accepting it with open arms this Christmas.
But it’s not just for me.
You are worthy of love, and you are loved.
I wish you wholeness today and every day that is to come.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9 v 6
This is the second in a series of Advent reflections. The first can be found here.