By Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
Our church’s name, Spirit of Peace, causes me to ponder what it means to live with and promote peace — both of which are sorely needed but not easily ascertained, especially within our present political climate and tensions around Covid-19.
People are of different minds and experiences and, when opinions run strong, it can seem more disquieting than peaceful. But, that’s just it.
Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict; it’s having the ability to maintain relationship in the midst of disagreement. Peace is promoted when we don’t allow disagreements to dominate the entirety of our relationships, and we live in peace when we allow our Christian identity to define us, not our differences. Admittedly, having peaceful relationships can be challenging, especially when we’re tempted to try and change the minds of those we disagree with.
Truth is, I don’t need to do that, because someone’s different opinion doesn’t actually hurt me.
I can remain at peace myself, and promote peace with others, if I just listen and accept their own point of view.
Maybe I can learn something, maybe I can’t, but I’m much more at peace when I don’t try to change their perspective. A bonus is that – when people know you’re sincerely listening, without the intention of changing their minds, they hear your perspective better!
How do we find personal peace? For me, it comes by having a rich and regular prayer life. Consistently praying and turning our lives over to God are important routines because, if we don’t make something a habit, we tend to lose it. My richest prayer time tends to be in the evening, when I’m going to bed. In the morning, I practice what I call my “morning offering.” I offer my day to God, sometimes by saying, “Lord, give me the eyes to see what you see, a heart for what breaks yours — and help me not to duck.” That pretty much encapsulates putting our lives in God’s hands every day because, sometimes we know what we’re meant to be doing, but we just want to duck!
I also invite people to remember their baptisms as another path to personal peace. As Christians, we find our identities in knowing we’re God’s children. We’re constantly washing our hands these days, so why not use it as a chance to remember we’re always in God’s hands? Taking a shower, while the water pours over us, is another good time to remember we’re fully immersed as a child of God. Simple actions like these help us remember who we are, and hopefully find our peace.
Valentine’s Day is coming up — the day our culture celebrates love. As Christians, we should remember that we’re called to love, not just for one day, but 365 days a year. And while it’s wonderful to have a romantic connection with someone, not everyone has that in his/her life. A good Christian discipline for Valentine’s Day would be for us to reach out to those who might be especially lonely, to let them know we’re here and we care. In doing so, we’ll both live with and promote the true Spirit of peace.
God loves you and so do I!
Pastor Devin Strong Spirit of Peace invites you to join us for Ash Wednesday observances from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. Participants can drive-up to receive the traditional rite of ashes, and to join us online at 7 p.m. for a virtual service, via Zoom.