Monday, November 28, 2016
by Rachel Reiff Ellis
Psalm 122 (NRSV)
I was glad when they said unto me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!
Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
As was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment
were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
In our family, the peace of Christ shows up often through laughter. On Sunday morning after hearing the invitational phrase, “May the peace of Christ be with you,” the five of us turn inward first. “Peace of Christ be with you,” I say to each of my children as I hug them tight, pressing my cheek to theirs. “Pizza crust be with you,” they respond back with dancing eyes, every time.
Next, we spill out into the aisles, reaching out our hands and offering our embraces, extending and receiving grace on every side. “Peace of Christ be with you!” we say with sincerity, or in the 4-year-old’s case, with gusto. Our pizza crust quickly transforms into the sure and steadfast peace of Christ.
Psalm 122 reminds us that this peace that passes all understanding is not only a worthy companion, but also our soul’s steadfast anchor. Its home is both around us and within us. Advent’s long, dark waiting days are a holy, fertile time for the peace of Christ to take root. We anticipate the arrival of Jesus by lighting candles, by sitting in stillness, and by lifting hopeful voices in familiar harmony: O come, thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Advent is often the time I am gladdest to “go unto the house of the Lord,” because in the soft and quiet sanctuary, peace abounds. But sometimes we forget that that same peace can be found inside us, too, through Emmanuel, God with us. God within us. May the peace of Christ be our compass as we prepare a way this Advent season, expectant and hopeful for what’s to come.