"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14. 27
An unusual quiet has settled over many places which would ordinarily be bustling at this time. Is this peace? Or is it the absence of activity?
There is no armed conflict in our islands and glens, in stark contrast to the battle zones of Yemen and Syria. Is this peace? Or the absence of conflict?
Family life can be a maelstrom of busy-ness with tantrums and bust-ups when the tension becomes too much, or everyone can sit around the dinner table in stony silence. Is this peace or the absence of harmony?
Like so many words which become diminished over time, "peace" can represent little more than the idea of something worse being absent. Which is a pity because, at its best, out suggests so much more. The Hebrew word we translate as "peace" is "shalom". Perhaps it too is vulnerable to the same mis-use. Yet in its traditional meaning it is beyond comparison in the nobility of what it conveys: a rich, satisfying, utterly good state of being in which every legitimate desire is fulfilled and nothing compromising is allowed to interfere.
This is one example of how God transforms something ordinary into a state of bliss. Is this not what Jesus means when he says that he does not give "as the world gives". He gives generously, adequately and what he gives never disappoints. Rather it exceeds our expectations. Time for a make-over?