[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Slywka is a daughter, sister and friend, currently living in beautiful British Columbia, although she considers herself lucky to be able to consider Regina one of her many ‘homes’. She is a lifelong learner, a lover of words, and a seeker of adventure, who spends her days helping people see as good as possible.]
In past years, I’ve always looked forward to writing for Glen Elm’s Advent blog. I’ve enjoyed putting some words down on the ‘page’, trying to draw meaning out of this time of waiting and expectation for myself, but also hopefully for some of the readers. But this year, to be honest, it’s been a struggle for me. I’ve procrastinated as long as possible in getting any words written down.
I think part of the reason that I’ve struggled to write this year, and maybe you can identify with this as well, is that some days my soul just feels weary. I’m all about hope, and finding beauty in our days on this earth. But to be honest, it’s been a hard year for our world – ISIS, the shooting in Ottawa, the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases, just to name a few. It takes no stretch of our imaginations to know this simple fact: the world is not as it should be.
And it can be so easy to become discouraged about it all. To throw up our hands in defeat. Yet even with all the goings-on of this year playing through my mind, as I mulled over what to share this year, the one word that kept coming up in my mind was PEACE.
And then I found the following words, written by a woman named Erin Loechner on her blog, Design for Mankind:
But this morning, one of my favorite Christmas songs came on the radio and I listened to the wise, true words of “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day”:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
And the tears fell and the reminder arrived, that yes, of course our world is broken. Our systems are broken. And perfect peace and goodwill – by our definition – will remain unattainable. Because what is peaceful to one does not bring good will to men. And what is peaceful to men does not bring good will to all.
And the bells ring.
Sometimes hope arrives after a terrible injustice. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to see it; to be invited into it. To watch it unfold, with front row seats and tearful eyes and open arms. We see the happy ending as the music swells and we clap and rise, hearts bursting as we file out into the world.
And the bells ring.
Other times, of course, the happy ending doesn’t make it to the screen. It’s behind the scenes, or on the cutting room floor, or perhaps hasn’t yet been created. And so the story we see playing is one of darkness and judgment and anger and hate.
And in those times, our eyes fail us. And so, we open our ears.
And the bells ring.
We hear them daily – in good news and bad. They ring, always, setting our world in motion to a rhythm we don’t understand; a song left unsung.
We hear them louder than the collective sounds of crowds mourning, mothers grieving, babies giggling, communities shouting, families feuding, neighbors dancing, enemies fighting.
They sound still, small. Quiet.
A bit like a voice.
“Let me hear what God will speak, for he will speak peace to his people.” -Psalm 85:8
Yes, the bells ring.
And after reading them, I knew that they were exactly what I needed to share. Some days, PEACE feels about as far away as possible. This world is broken, and it’s hard to believe it could ever be put right. But even through all of the mess that we find ourselves in on this earth, we can know that PEACE has come. He came in the form of a tiny baby over 2000 years ago. And He still comes today.
And then, as if to drive the point home even further for me, I stumbled on this new Christmas song by Hillsong:
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad that our PEACE in this world is not dependent on anything we may or may not do. PEACE has come, and we can know that even on the days when things don’t make much sense, that He is surely making all things right.