Peace that passes understanding
By Rev. Patrick D. Heery
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Reflection: When Paul writes to the Philippians, he does so facing his own death. He is in prison, and not long from now he may be killed. In his letter, Paul reflects on his life and ministry, on all the things that we devote so much energy to, all the squabbles and arguments, all the fears and worries, and he says that none of it matters except this one word: “Rejoice!”
To rejoice, when the world gives you no reason to do so, is to defy the powers of this world and assert unequivocally that “the Lord is near.” It is to laugh in the face of the enemy. It is to declare, as Paul asserts elsewhere, that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. It is to be gentle when the world expects harshness, to be honorable and just in a room that is anything but. It is to believe that there is something that cannot be taken from us: we are the children of God. To know this, to revel in this, is to receive a peace that passes understanding.
This week you’re going to hear about different kinds of peace that are so big, so complex, so counter-intuitive, that they transcend understanding. They are gifts. They are grace. They are Emmanuel: God among us.
Action: Pray to God today. Pray as if God were right in front of you, as if God were breaking into this world as we speak. What are you thankful for? What do you need help with? What places in your life and in this world cry out for peace?
Prayer: O God of peace, help us laugh more, rejoice louder, and sing more boldly. Let our joy defy—and remake—prison bars, and war, and bigotry, and all that would divide and wound your children. Let our joy combine with yours, and your Son’s, in remaking the world, till there is peace at last. Amen.
Rev. Patrick D. Heery is the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn, New York, and is the former editor of Presbyterians Today and Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.