STROUP: Peace of what?

By Janet Stroup

Guest Columnist

Well, here we are in the aftermath off Christmas, and some of us are quick to be down with the decorations while others take their sweet time removing them. I’m in the latter group and pondering some of the aspects I’ve come to take for granted in this annual season.

The Christmas story, if one knows it, emphasizes the birth of a baby and everyone likes a baby. However the significance of the birth is that we know what that baby did when he grew up, not to mention the strangeness of his conception.

Interesting to note, he came to be known by a variety of names which I don’t care to focus on now, except for one, ‘Prince of Peace.’ And that one has some reason to give us pause. Peace of what? Prince of Peace of the community, the world or peace between neighbors? What kind of peace?

Side note: My denomination is one of what have become known as the Peace Churches, and when at our annual meeting in the distant past I would peruse the book displays, I found children’s material on teaching peace which, at that time, didn’t impress me.

However, in these golden years of my life, I’ve come to think that it makes sense to consider peace of Mind and Spirit. And then it seems logical to look at what makes for that peace. I love it when I can explore a subject in a new way, so hang with me while I explore.

The Prince’s Peace-making

I’m thinking of scripture that tells of the prince’s contacts with individuals, and his often unusual interactions with them. Take the prostitute who was about to be stoned (according to law) for her ‘behavior.’ The good guys were surrounding her about to do their duty when the prince commented, “Let those without sin cast the first stone.” My guess is that when, one by one the good guys left the group, the gal felt a measure of peace. And if she followed his advice, “Go and sin no more”, she’d find some more peace.

How about when a bunch of kids, seeing the prince approaching, rushed toward him to get his attention, and his ‘bodyguards’ tried to move them away?

And the prince welcomed them, saying, “Let the little comes come to me, and forbid them not (you dweebs- my insert), for of such belongs the kingdom of heaven. Here again, I would guess that those kids, low on the ladder of social esteem and prestige, would have had more of a peace within them when this obviously important person welcomed them into his presence.

Then there is the advice given about forgiveness, and most of us know in our heads if not in our hearts that grudge holding has an adverse effect on the psyche. So if we could have a desire to forgive, and asked for help, it’s pretty likely that it could be done. And eventually a greater measure of peace could ensue.

And sometimes the prince made his point, for those who could really hear, by a story. So let us not forget the Good Samaritan story which I’m assuming you already know. In it, the good churchy guys walked right past the injured guy alongside the road, while the despised, in that society, Samaritan did the good deed of tending to the robbed/injured man and even paid his doctor bill. Could that have made for more peace of mind for the Samaritan and the injured man? I think so. And I would guess many of us remember that story, and feel a little guilty when we pass by a hitch-hiker, but hopefully we would feel less skittish about helping an injured person if we came upon one.

Peace-inducing words

When hurtful words are aimed at a person, it’s impossible to see the internal effects on the recipient, eg. the unpeaceful feelings. And I’ve come to see that we could promote peace in every-day ways, by the choice of words we use to get our message out.

How many of us like to be advised, “You ought to……” or, ”You should.…” When you think of it, a statement beginning with those three words implies that the judge and jury (that would be the speaker) is assuming a superior attitude, which no one prefers.

I’ve decided that advice given starting with, “You might want to…” is less invasive and when I hear one of my adult children using it, I think it likely has been useful for him.

Some years ago I decided that the more I left the word ‘politics’ out of my verbiage, the more peaceful the conversation would go, since the flavor of that word is so strong, it pollutes the whole sentence.

Some of us are familiar with paraphrasing which is the practice of repeating in different words what we’ve just heard someone say. The practice of it can make for a more peaceful atmosphere, since it implies the speaker is seeking for understanding of the one to whom he is listening instead of formulating an argument in his mind.

The song about “knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em” comes to mind when it comes to our words. Knowing when to ‘fold’ our tongues could be an excellent skill to acquire. Some folks say counting to ten works pretty well when feeding the fire wouldn’t be overly constructive.

Certainly there could be more illustrations given for how the Prince of Peace contributes to our abundant living but one would have to be convinced that peace is a desirable commodity to pursue it.

Blessings to you all as you find ways to bring peace within and to your surroundings.

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