“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
anxiety or discontent.
“public unease about defence policy”
terror · fright · fearfulness · horror · alarm · panic · agitation · trepidation · dread · consternation · dismay · distress · anxiety · worry · angst · uneasiness · apprehension · apprehensiveness · nervousness · nerves · timidity · disquiet · disquietude”
Watching the news during the last few months has, for me, been an unsettling experience, to say the least. Amid a global pandemic, the news has been anxiety-filled for some time.
With the tragic death of George Floyd a couple of weeks ago, the news has most recently been filled with images of worldwide protests, as people express their outrage at – not only his death – but at the inherent racism and oppression that, unfortunately, is a painful reality for many people in the world.
I have been listening to many voices as this debate has raged across the world, from views of how people should protest, down to the reasons that they need to.
It’s the voices of my friends that have most stuck in my mind, however. In so many recent conversations, their fear for the future has been prominent, as have their very real worries about the kind of world that their children are growing up in. Most of all I have sensed their feelings of powerlessness.
We all know change is needed and many of us would like to be part of effecting some change, in our own small way. Yet, in the face of such need in the world, with the backdrop of such darkness, lasting change can feel elusive or even impossible.
Fear as narrative
It is difficult not to adopt a narrative of fear in times as uncertain as this. The news has often been filled with images of angry clashes between police and protesters, news of civil unrest or the daily updates of how the pandemic is ravaging parts of the world.These are all facts but they are not the whole story.
Finding light in the darkness
There is another narrative that is playing out – one that as Christians we have the privilege of being more aware of – and that is one of faith.
I was deeply moved to see images of protesters and police praying for one another, and the numerous peaceful protests in many parts of the world, and to hear the calls for peace from all areas of society.
Similarly, amidst this pandemic there have great moves towards unity in many countries, as people have joined together to tackle the crisis and support the vulnerable.
As a Christian, I believe that God is moving in all of these situations and through the lens of faith I find myself remaining hopeful of our ability to change, of our ability to seek peace.
Prince of peace
“And he will be called. Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
The word ‘peace’ is defined as either ‛freedom from disturbance; tranquillity’ or ‛a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended.’
Peace can seem like such an unattainable concept in the face of conflict, as can faith in the face of fear.
The truth is we will never find either kind of peace alone.
The kind of lasting peace that the world needs, the kind of inner peace and freedom from fear that we each need, can only come from a change of heart – from opening our hearts, more fully to Jesus.
As St Paul tells us, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4
The sign of peace
The final definition of the word ‘peace’ is ‛a ceremonial handshake or kiss exchanged during a service in some Churches (now usually only in the Eucharist), symbolizing Christian love and unity.’
In the Catholic Church, the ‘sign of peace’ takes place during every Mass and is an expression of the peace, unity and charity that exist in our Christian community. We, of course, have not been able to shake hands with each other during the course of this pandemic and may not for some time, yet the Christian love and unity that this gesture symbolises are still present and still very much an outward expression of our faith.
I am reminded of the need for our faith communities to continue to reach out to each other at this difficult time, but also of our call to reach out to the world, to all people.
I remain hopeful that change is possible and, in amidst the unease and unrest, I can still feel peaceful and I can still pray for peace with conviction.
I can feel this way because of my faith in Jesus Christ, because through Him all things are possible and through Him we will find everlasting peace.
“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