Today marks the second Sunday of Advent when we light the candle of peace. It reminds us once again of the peace that comes through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Bible tells us in the Gospel of Luke 2:14 that when Jesus was born, a great company of heavenly hosts proclaimed the glad tidings for all people, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
In the original Hebrew language, shalom (peace) represents total well-being, prosperity, and security that comes about with God’s presence. It implies a state of fullness and perfection; overflowing inner and outer joy and peaceful serenity. It is a state in which one can truly rest.
Having such a peace does not mean having an easy and plain-sailing life. This peace is not the absence of evil and suffering. Rather, it is in spite of their presence, and only because of Emmanuel—the presence of God with us. Living a life set apart from the world and for God will never be easy. But knowing that God is with us and for us brings a peace (shalom) which surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phi. 4:7), giving us strength and endurance for the race.
Paul reminds us in Rom. 5:1-2 that Christ has become the sacrifice of atonement for our sins and restored us to a place of shalom with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace (shalom) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
Through the Father who sent the Son, who was born, died and risen, and the Spirit who convicts and converts, the shalom that once was, but was lost in the Garden, has been restored and is again available to us today. Simply witnessing the lighting of the candle of peace is a reminder of the deep human longing for shalom—a true peace that is greater than all understanding. For those who are in Christ, it is a reassurance that God’s peace, his shalom, is real, present, and greater than anything the world has to offer.
Shalom! Peace be with you!