Rev. Kelvin Sauls (File photo)

In a season when we are on yet another journey to commemorate the birth of the “Prince of Peace,” born and raised in Palestine, many communities and countries find themselves in the midst of war. From Israel’s genocide in Gaza to a holocaust unfolding in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Six million have died, and more than 6.5 million are displaced after decades of fighting and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.

Neighbors, mercenaries, and militias has exasperated the merciless mayhem. Both wars are funded and fueled by western governments who benefit through policies of neo-colonization, occupation, the military industry complex, and the coveting of essential natural resources.

Though implying the message of peace, the season of lights undoubtedly imposes unwelcome anxiety, insecurity, and vulnerability! Hence, peace might be the least expensive gift, personally and familiarly, communally, and globally, but it’s sho’nuff the most valuable and needed for such a time as this. With Christmas being cancelled in Bethlehem in solidarity with a global call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and eventual end of occupation, we must remain steadfast on our pursuit of a just peace that will make conditions conducive for equitable belonging in safety and security for everyone.
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In his letter to the Jesus-followers in Philippi, the Apostle Paul talks about the nature of such a peace as “the peace of God.” He writes, “…and the peace of God which reassures the heart, transcends all understanding, stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…this peace of God is yours.” (Philippians 4:7). The peace needed amid raging wars is not one characterized by mere words and signing of accords, but “the peace of God.” Even though God’s peace is not limited to the spiritual realm, no president or prime minister, politician or pastor can provide “the peace of God.”

The all-encompassing “peace of God” affect, infect and influence every aspect of our lives. Hence, like war, “the peace of God” must be waged! In paraphrasing Mahatma Ghandi, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr  brought profound perspective to “the peace of God which passes all understanding with the following words, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of (racial, social and economic ) justice…”

Until we achieve this kind of peace, anxiety and insecurity, vulnerability and uncertainty will abound and accompany us before, during and after this season when we commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace from Palestine. Standing on the bold and broad shoulders of Ghandi and King, former President Barack Obama puts such a comprehensive and liberative “peace of God” as follows, “Peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends upon creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of human beings: nuclear weapons and poverty; ignorance and disease.”

While it might seem illusive, I submit to you that one of the greatest gifts this festive season, is pursuing and practicing “the peace of God which passes all understanding.” Reach for it! Be it! Realize it! Become it!

With opened eyes, and an enlarged circle of concern, empathy and compassion, join me in the “Prayer of St. Francis:”
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy…”

From Palestine to the Congo, may the peace of God, which disrupts and destroys  all schemes of deception and colonization, occupation and exclusion, exploitation and marginalization, prevail in our hearts, heads and hands.

Reach for the peace of God! Be it! Realize it! Become the peace if God! Let it be so, in this season and beyond!!