The peace of Christ be with you

Published 7:38 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

The season swirls around us — the excitement, the anticipation. People are on the move, to get home for the holidays, in search of surprises for loved ones. In the midst of it all, we also express our care for others — beyond our own families — through a myriad of kind acts and generous gestures. And above all the bustle, you’ll hear…

The bells. Jingling, bouncing with joy, festive and light. Hand bells ringing, calling attention to red buckets; reach into our pockets and into our hearts to share with others. Tower bells pealing, summoning the community to gather in wonder and awe at the story of God’s greatest gift of love.

There is a hush that falls at some point — either as the list is finally done, or the quiet of the night descends, or the exhausted fall into bed. There is a point at which a pause comes, and a reverent stillness reigns supreme…. “Be still and know that I am God…”

I hear many people express an ache for this peace and stillness, not just at Christmas. In the unfolding of our days throughout the year, the busyness catches us all too quickly. We lose track of time. We over-schedule, we burn the candle at both ends. We pour ourselves into work, or live to be distracted by our playtimes. However, what can keep us in healthy alignment with all of life is God. As we take time with God, we find all of the rest of life moves into its proper orbit.

This is true not just at Christmas, but also in our rhythm of gathering with others for weekly worship. We blend our voices together. We reaffirm before each other the important role God has in our lives. We pledge our lives to living as God’s agents of grace in the world in the week ahead. The ancient practice of keeping the Sabbath accomplished many things. The people rested and were refreshed. The people stopped and put their full attention on God. And their habit set a distinctly different pattern from the culture around them; it marked them as belonging to God.

I encourage you to keep daily devotions and prayers at rising, eating and lay-me-down. Keep the habit of weekly worship with others keeping Sabbath. And keep the annual seasons recalling God’s profound stories. In it all, the Peace of Christ be with you.

Rev. Michael Kendall is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email address is