“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” — 2 Corinthians 13:11
Lent 2021 begins with the sobering reminder of Ash Wednesday that we always stand in the need of God’s mercy and grace. God is eager to hear our cries for forgiveness. As we refocus our minds and our hearts on God during this Lent season, let us enter into this time with prayerful hearts for our families, our community, and for Live Oak Church.
Peace in Hebrew is the word shalom. There are 236 biblical references with the word shalom in the Old Testament. It can mean peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. It is used to mean both hello and goodbye throughout the Middle East. The Jewish greeting is shalom aleichem, meaning “peace be upon you.”
Peace is often defined as an absence of war or fighting. It has a more positive connotation emoting completeness or wholeness. It is expressed in our relationships with God and humanity, and even with the created world. It involves positive engagements in the relationships between human beings.
Peace is a state of balance and harmony arising out of our desire to be one with God. It is our duty not only to seek peace, but to strive for its attainment in every sphere of life. We are called to seek peace for every living person. If peace is absent from any community, the negative consequences could include conflict. We pray for peace to permeate our lives and every region of the world.
Refocusing on God's peace is an important practice during the season of Lent as it allows us to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice given to us. Ash Wednesday does not focus on the sinfulness of man, but rather the mercy of Christ. As we begin this season, we encourage you to find new ways to aim your hearts towards God as we continue to grow as a church family.
Most gracious and loving God, we thank you for your overwhelming peace and mercy and for the promise of Christ Jesus. We pray that those who struggle internally might be blessed with the spirit of God, which grants up solace. We pray for the presence of the Prince of Peace in the hearts of those who believe. Move us all to actions of peace and justice. Be with Live Oak Church as we move forward in this season of transition and change. As we refocus our view on you, allow us to be filled with your love. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
Written by: Jimmie Hawkins