December 5, 2019
Scripture: Number 6:26
The LORD lift up his face to you and grant you peace.
Thought for the Day: The Hebrew word we translate as peace in the Old Testament is Shalom. It most definitely means peace, but peace that includes contentment and completeness, health and wellbeing. Too often the goal of peace is too short-sided, hoping to simply squelch the current violence. But if there is no shalom, then violence remains a real and accessible option – never addressing the larger structural problems from which violence emerges. Most of us know the words of Karl Marx who suggested that religion is the “opium of the people.” I believe Marx was right on this occasion as you think about the worst of institutionalized religion. It often seeks a peace that pacifies, but does not want any real change. The voices of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), and later Jesus himself, spoke of a peace that sought to transform both individuals and communities. The peace of scripture does not impose peace as the Romans did so well through military intimidation, but endeavored to create an environment where every person was respected and every person had reason to respect every other person. It was the vision of a whole new reality, a vision embodied in a child whose birth represented a radically different perception of peace.
Prayer: Grant us your peace, Lord God, a peace that provides comfort and contentment to all people in their unique circumstances, a peace that seeks to create the lasting reality of true shalom. Amen.
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