Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Gift of Peace

CandleThe worship music ended, and the pastor walked out and sat on his stool, from which he usually did his preaching.

He folded his hands on his lap, and just looked out at the congregation.

People grew uncomfortable, and quickly felt compelled to fill the silence.

“Good morning!” one said, thinking maybe the pastor wanted the congregation to greet him first. Others chimed in, but the pastor said nothing.

“You feelin’ alright, Preach?” someone asked with a chuckle.

“Short sermon today?” another person quipped. The laughter and chatter of the congregation filled the pastor's silence.

Personally, I was grateful for the silence, which was being marred by the good-natured heckling of the crowd. It had been a crazy morning. I was sick and stressed. My daredevil toddler was getting rowdy in the bathroom and fell hard on her cheek. I considered just staying home, at least until time for worship at the church my husband pastors. But I needed this time to myself, where I could worship anonymously and unselfconsciously.

I craved a moment of peace, to relax the tension in my body and mind, and bring my thoughts to God. The pastor gave us just the gift I needed (as a sermon illustration to demonstrate the difficulty of waiting patiently), but many did not recognize the silence as a gift. They felt uncomfortable and sought to fill the time with words, jokes, and nervous laughter.

Quiet moments can be rare between all the responsibilities and distractions of life, but they are even rarer because we don’t recognize them when they do happen and cherish them for the gifts they are. When we find ourselves having to wait somewhere or somehow stuck with “nothing to do,” we fill the time with chatter or a game of Sudoku on our iPhones, rather than simply resting and allowing God’s peace to rest within us and renew us.

While many people have to work on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas (and some on Christmas Day itself), and you may be bustling between family members' homes, hopefully today will offer some quiet rest for you. Even if the Christmas music is playing and the children are wearing out the batteries on their noisiest new toys, the pace of life will be slower and hopefully you'll have time to just sit and be.

Take time for solitude. Take a moment to step back and be still, be silent. Watch your family play and let the joy wash over you. Welcome the Prince of Peace into your home and cherish the gift of peace that he brings on Christmas Day and always. Merry Christmas.

This post is adapted from my post this week on The Pastor's Wife Speaks.

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