Mid Week Reflection – Going in Peace
I make no apologies for returning to a theme we reflected on in Advent last year, the Nunc dimittis. We start with the words of the Nunc dimittis and the opportunity, through YouTube, to listen to the Song of Simeon composed by Geoffrey Burgon, sung by Paul Phoenix and the Boys of the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Nunc dimittis
LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
During Advent I received an email which ended with the words ‘In God’s peace’ followed by the signature. In the context of this reflection, it should read ‘Go in God’s Peace’ but what could this mean?
Firstly, whatever we say about peace, it has a Divine quality, as Christians this Divine quality is present whether we see or hear it ourselves. Peace also is something we can experience in our daily life, in the ordinary things of life and they too have a Divine quality. Peace i.e., quiet, tranquillity, and safety are experiences most people enjoy. Whether it be the early morning quietness before the events of the day overtake us, or the tranquillity of sitting and looking across a lake to the mountains in the background or looking out over a becalmed sea or more probably just looking of our windows. As for safety, it could be returning home after coping with crowds in shops or on the streets. We return home and sit down and let out a big sigh. We are home, our place and even our sanctuary.
Peace is not always easy to find. I remember many years ago running some sessions on prayer and how to find somewhere in the home where you could sit and pray in peace. The following day I bumped into one of the group, a Mum with two young children. She said she was enjoying the sessions but as for finding a peaceful place during the day, that was a different matter. Later over a coffee we tried to resolve the problem of there being no peaceful place and then she offered a throw away comment, ‘the only place I can get peace during the day is in the loo’. We looked at each other in silence and then I said perhaps you have found your peaceful place. It worked for her.
Each Sunday at the end of the Eucharist we are dismissed with the words ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. It is difficult to go in peace if we are not at peace within ourselves. Going in peace is not always easy, some people find it easier than others to act in a peaceful way. I was reminded of this recently when I took Holy Communion to someone who is seriously ill and confined to his home. I said the words ‘Go in peace . . . ‘ afterwards he said ‘I should say the words to you because I’m not going anywhere’.
Peace is not just confined to ourselves, our family and friends and our church. The Divine quality of peace by its very nature, reaches out into a world around us and it can be hard, noisy and sometimes argumentative. Yes, Peace can seem a long way from having a Divine quality.
Make me a channel of Peace
Let us begin a time of quiet reflection.
Find yourself a favourite place.
Slowly breath in through your nose and hold your breath for the count of two, breathe out through your mouth for the count of four. Do this a few times.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time. (Orin L. Crain)
Read this poem, author unknown, slowly
On This Day….
Mend a quarrel
Search out a forgotten friend
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust
Write a love letter
Share some treasures
Give a soft answer
Manifest your loyalty in a word or deed
Keep a promise
Find the time
Forego a grudge
Forgive an enemy
Apologise if you were wrong
Try to understand
Examine your demands on others
Think first of someone else
Appreciate, be kind, be gentle
Laugh a little more.
Take up arms against malice
Express your gratitude
Worship your God
Gladden the heart of a child
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
Speak your love
Speak it again
Speak it still again
Speak it still once again….
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
Scripture Reading from the Gospel according to St Luke (2.28-40)
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon* blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna* the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child* to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Return to Nazareth
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Listen to your life.
See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.
In the boredom and pain of it
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it
because in the last analysis all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace. (Frederick Buechner)
Now let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Local church and its leaders
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed
those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill
those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of our greater destiny. (Orin L. Crain)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
(Taken from Morning Prayer from Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer published by Collins.’ )
Go in God’s peace or to use that beautiful Hebrew word ‘šhālôm’. that beautiful Hebrew word for peace. Knowing that we are going in God’s peace.
Trilingual peace graphic (Hebrew Shalom שלום – Arabic Salam/Salaam السلام).
Public domain Wikimedia Commons
(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James)
Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold)
In the Diocese of Manchester
CCLI Licence Number 1243418 Church Copyright and Streaming Licence
*Olive branch Evrik and Mets501 Public domain