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Peace of Mind... but wait, there's more

December 3rd, 2011

The Light of Peace

We’re waiting, Lord.
Less with patient expectation;
More with frustration and anxiety.

Waiting for peace among nations seems a lost cause.
Expecting relief from the overwhelming tragedies of life is a bad joke.
Anticipating a better future–not so easy when your stomach churns with fear and hunger;
Peace of mind is a mirage or a memory when three little ones are crying with the cold.

What are we waiting for? When will the waiting end?

The Prince of Peace has come they say.
Then where is the peace?
Why do we re-live this liturgically year after year and at Christmas enact a miracle birth …again and again?
Where is the product? Where are the positive outcomes of those promises of prophets …long ago?

UCOM’s faith promises peace.

A contest was being held. A huge prize would be awarded to the artist whose work most beautifully expressed a sense of peace. As you can imagine there were hundreds of paintings of Madonna and child, asleep on her bosom, nursing at her breast, clinging to her finger. There were pastoral scenes and woodlands—all creatures great and small. To the amazement of the masses the winning painting pictured a little bird precariously clinging to her nest of eggs as a raging wind beat upon her. In the immediate background a churning waterfall sent spray up as high as the nest. Storm clouds loomed in the sky. The bird, wet and windblown and threatened on every side, looked like she was settling into a song. Not a very peaceful scene from our perspective, but one of the qualities of peace is that it is not predicated on external circumstances, but rather on our reactions to the things that come our way.

Peace, like hope, whispers that no matter what our current trials, someone cares. No matter what looms in the future we will not face it alone. Whatever the next ravine may be, there is a bridge. So like the little bird singing in the storm, there is a quietness that settles the fears like a soothing parent’s hand caressing a baby; there is a breath of life and the heartbeat of one who cares synchronizing with our own pulsing, slowing us down, bringing us peace.

At UCOM, our faith says that we are the “flesh face” of that God of peace. Though theology and religion may seem too hard to contemplate, it is not so hard to relate to another human being who expresses care in our situation, who, with a smile and a tender word welcomes us without judgment, and offers to help however they can. It is that human connection that interprets the Divine and makes God more than “a father in heaven” but speaks of the whole spiritual experience of “God with us.”

Because we offer tangible help now UCOM is a place that brings a measure of peace, peace of mind, to people with very specific and immediate needs.

…but wait. There’s more.

The peace that UCOM lives as an agency is more than a temporary respite from immediate physical needs for people. UCOM is also a sanctuary, an extended family for those who are looking for a place to be accepted, a place where our assets are more important than our disabilities, a place where the past is passed and where human potential is the leading quality recognized. The peace of heart that comes to those who are loved, held accountable, recognized as valuable and teachable and special is a gift not to be taken for granted. This is a part of the peace that lives in our faith.

There is no bullying, no belittling, no game-playing, no politics (in the bad sense of that term), no bickering, no turf-wars—just a place of peace where every volunteer, staff member, and most of our clients find home.

No matter what the external factors, no matter what rages within, UCOM’s faith is that the Spirit of Peace rules in the depths and those of us who will may find that special peace in the midst of our life-storms.

Shalom!
Light the light of peace.

[UCOM really is a faith-based community resource. We are not a church—don’t conduct worship services, have no pastor, no preaching, no proselytizing; but we do ministry (service for others) because of a deep-seated faith that tells us what we are doing is the right thing for us to do together with and for our neighbors.

Because of that faith-base, I am often asked when I preach in churches to speak of UCOM’s faith. It seems to me that the Advent season, as it is celebrated in many mainstream Christian congregations, is a good time to address this. So for the next four weeks, I will write on UCOM’s faith based on the “lights” of Advent—hope, peace, joy and love. Because Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, overlaps the first week of Christmas this year, I’ll write a joint-Chanukah/Christmas perspective on UCOM’s faith. Finally because the Winter Solstice is a high holiday for many of my friends and family, I will write of UCOM’s faith based on the anticipation and celebration of Light. I invite you to add your faith perspective as it relates to the work of United Church Outreach Ministry and to our place in the community of faith and in the wider community.]

 

Comments

#1 Linda Looney said:

Bruce, I SO agree with you about how someone is hungry or worried or feeling beaten down might find it hard to fund peace in this Advent season. I know, I've been there many years ago, but I've never forgotten how it feels. I am comforted by now being in a position to help out UCOM as it once helped us. Shalom

#2 Bruce Roller said:

We so appreciate your wonderful financial support and volunteering that helps to get UCOM's neighbors through their toughest times. You're right; there's nothing like experiencing hardship to help us to empathize with people who are suffering.
Peace to you and yours.

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