Give my head peace! How many of us have heard someone say that to us?
Most mothers will probably have uttered the words from time to time - I know mine did, usually when we, (my brothers and sisters) were squabbling about something very unimportant! Come to think of it there was a daft Northern Ireland television programme entitled ‘Give my Head Peace’, (which was perhaps more true to life than we are prepared to admit)!
But more seriously, peace seems to be an elusive aspiration in many parts of our world today, including our own province.
As a result of the absence of peace, thousands have had to expose themselves and their families to danger and hardship as they leave their homeland in search of safety, security and, hopefully peace, as they cross sea and traverse land seeking a better future.
But more generally, we all live in an anxious world. Recent events in Paris and elsewhere add to the uncertainty this has increased dramatically in the last few years. We worry about terrorism. We worry about war. We worry about losing our jobs. We worry about the dangers confronting our children - the absence of peace.
But all is not bleak and foreboding. Paul’s letter to the little church at Philippi refers to the peace of God, Philippians 4: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So there it is. The secret of peace. But you ask, what is this peace?
One of the great titles of the one whose birth we celebrated a few days ago is ‘Prince of peace’. It is through experiencing peace with God we can know the peace of God through faith in this Prince of peace.
Romans 5 says: “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God (how?) through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how do we get peace with God? Jesus tells us how: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
It’s good to know that even in the middle of all the fears, concerns and anxieties of life we can know the peace of God, this inner peace, in spite of all that is going on around us.
But there is something else. Each one of us, everyone who has experienced peace with God, has to share that peace and we will be blessed in doing so. Matthew 5:9 says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
The prophet Isaiah puts it like this: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Isaiah 52:7
May each of us not only know peace with God, the peace of God, but be instruments of peace wherever God has placed us.