As we continue the season of Lent, APC invites you to enjoy this special Lenten devotional series from Presbyterians Today (PCUSA) entitled
The Way to Shalom: A Lenten Journey to Peace and Wholeness.
February 28, 2021
Shalom: The Way to the Promise of Peace (Week 2)

Jesus gives us the promise of peace, but not as the world would define peace. Peace is not the absence of trouble or conflict, but the certainty that in life’s storms, we have a Savior to calm the seas. Where in your life can you recall the stormy seas being calmed? How did it feel to know that amid trouble you were being held safe and secure? Where is this peace that passes all understanding needed right now in your home, community, church or country?

Add to your peace prayer “tree”
This past week, the Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins lifted up prayers for peace in several parts of the world. Take strips of fabric and add to your peace “tree” — or railing or fence — the word for “peace” in the various languages that Hawkins shared. After writing each word out, close your eyes, hold the fabric and pray for God’s peace to be felt by those in that region. The words for peace highlighted in the first week of Lenten devotionals are: shalom (Hebrew), salam (Arabic), dohiyi (Cherokee), paz (Spanish), udo (Igbo/Nigeria), wolakota (Lakota), pyonghwa (Korean) and nye (Ntomba/Congo). Now think about those close to you who are feeling restless or scared this Lenten season. Write their names down and pray for peace to wash over them.
Peace appears in the strangest of places

"In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:8–11 (NRSV)

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him." Matthew 4:8–11 (NRSV)

How desperately the children of the world need peace. We wander looking for peace, yet God proclaims peace in the strangest places. It isn’t heard from brass bands or symphonies, or seen in military parades, stock market exchanges or super bowls, but rather among the silence of shepherds on a cold mountain top as we heard a few months ago in Luke’s telling of the nativity story. And then we have the Lenten Scripture that reminds us in the moments when we need it the most — in our desert suffering — peace comes. We are not left alone. The peace of healing appears just as it did with the angel tending to a tempted and tried — and victorious — Jesus.

A friend described visiting a refugee camp in the Middle East, full of people desperately seeking food as famine ravaged their country. And with all those people, especially young babies and children, there was no crying. There was the silence of hunger. As we seek peace, maybe we should try to center ourselves in silence. The noise of war, the noise of political demonstrations in the streets and the noise of political rallies can distract from the deep needs around us. We should pay attention to the quiet suffering and hear the angels tell us where God’s peace is needed in the world.

In this time of Lent, Lord God, help us hear the proclamation of peace among your beloved children. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
About the authors:
The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., is joined by colleagues Catherine Gordon, associate for international issues; Christian Brooks, representative for domestic poverty issues; Sue Rheem, representative for the United Nations; and Ivy Lopedito, a mission specialist for the United Nations, in writing this year’s devotional. The Office of Public Witness is the denomination’s advocate and social witness in Washington, D.C. Learn more.
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