“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
In two words, Jesus identified the taproot of all strife: troubled hearts. In another two, he offered the solution: “my peace.”
After a brief absence, my daughter Amanda returned home to an unusually quiet house. “You missed quite a show, Mama,” one child said, describing a major disagreement between two siblings. Both had since fled to their rooms.
Amanda listened to the story from those who had seen the quarrel, but before finding the squabbling siblings, she prayed for wisdom.
In one bedroom, she gently felt for the youngster’s head, deeply hidden under the blankets. “What happened?” Emerging slowly, the child explained. So did the partner in strife, when Amanda got to that bedroom.
“Is this the worst sin in the world?” Amanda asked both, after hearing their versions of the conflict.
“Did Jesus die for this sin?”
Sniffles. “Yes, he did.”
“Did he already forgive it?”
“Yes, he did,” each answered.
By now, Amanda had discerned that both children were also upset with themselves. They regretted their reactions and worried they’d never be forgiven by their offended sibling. She dug deeper. “If Jesus already forgave it, do you think it’s right for you to resent what happened? And do you think it’s okay for you to be mad at yourself, too?”
A ray of hope shone in eyes filled with repentant tears. “Jesus would want me to forgive. And I shouldn’t resent.”
Minutes later, the children met in the kitchen and set things right. Sweet peace followed.
Amanda says she learned a valuable lesson in forgiveness that day – how futile it is to harbour resentment toward someone else for something Jesus has already forgiven. “Forgiveness is a gift of freedom,” she said. “Asking for it, receiving it, and offering it.”
“Peace on earth and goodwill to mankind,” proclaimed the angel choir on the night of Jesus’ birth. That peace began with another child burrowed deep in bed – a manger bed. A child God sent to bring forgiveness of sins and lasting peace to a striving world.
This Christmas, model Christ’s forgiveness to those who have wronged you. No gift can compare with the peace of heart that follows.
Advent Prayer –
“Emmanuel, humanity waits in darkness, longing for your light. In the centre of darkness, rekindle our hope. As we wait for peace in the midst of war, be with us. As we pray for families to be reunited, be with us. As we pray for enemies to be reconciled, be with us. As we pray for lands to be restored, be with us. As we pray for long-term security, be with us. As we pray for kindness and community, be with us. Restore and set right our relationships. Replace the darkness in our hearts with your light and joy. Let your word set alight the hope the world needs to bring to life your love and justice. Amen.” Unknown