What does peace look like?

An Advent Devotional

By Beth R. Bailey

Read: Luke 1:68-79

What does peace look like for you? Is it when your to-do list is finished? Is it when you are free
from obligations? Is it when you feel safe? Or perhaps is it when you feel comforted after a
difficult situation? Peace certainly feels that way in my own life sometimes. But peace is more
than just our personal, daily comforts of living.

These verses in Luke 1 are called the Benedictus, which is Zechariah’s song to God for God’s
salvation in the birth of the Messiah and in the birth of his own son, John the Baptist. His praise is
more than thankfulness for the birth of John the Baptist. He sings of God’s salvation moving
through the community, transforming its very being in the world into an expansive safety net of
freedom, comfort, and ultimately, true shalom.

In Zechariah’s song, salvation is a personal call to individuals as they are involved in the
transformation of God’s community. The call is to follow as God “guides our feet into the way of
peace,” making us vessels of “light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (v.
79). This may challenge our understanding of God’s salvation for our own lives. God calls us to
salvation as we physically, politically, socially, and economically show forth God’s justice and
love in our relationships with not only near neighbors and our church communities, but also with
strangers, our communities as a whole, and into the world. God grants us mercy and brings us
glimpses of salvation, glimpses of hope, as we pursue the justice that God requires of us and the
world groans for.

Could we all be called to sing songs of praise like Zechariah, once we follow the signs of justice
and peace of God’s movement in our midst? The miracle here is that God never gives up on
sending salvation signs because God never gives up on us. As we live in a waiting period now
during Advent and in our ordinary flow of time during the year, be open to God’s voice in listening
for surprising songs of God’s transforming work in our lives and in the world. God’s invitation is for
us to create paths toward shalom in our midst, just as Jesus comes into this world as the Prince
of Peace. What paths of justice, love, and true peace are inviting you this season?

Prayer: God, help us to sing, shout, and whisper prophetically the ways of peace, justice, and
love in our world. Grant us the courage to ask ourselves, “Are we still listening?” amidst the veil of
personal comforts and convenience. Help us bring light to the darkness in a world that
desperately needs it. Let us make way for the Prince of Peace to guide us in our own lives and in
bringing true shalom to all of creation. Amen.

Beth Bailey serves as the Seminary Intern for Young Adults at River Road Church, Baptist in Richmond, VA. She is currently a 2nd year Master of Divinity student at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond. Recently, she was awarded the CBF Vestal Scholarship.

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