By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79
When I think of peace I usually think of a feeling not an action..” I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling...” says the song. Yet Luke says our feet our involved on a path- this sounds like movement to me. One of the greatest gifts I have learned as a parent is the gift of putting myself in “time-out”. Sometimes the emotions of all in the room are just too high and so I need to step away and ask for some time. What if this is my feet being guided towards peace? Remaining in the space will usually lead to raised voices, hurt feelings, and no one feeling understood. Maybe we all we need sometimes is for space to be given to allow for the way of peace.
Prayer - Gracious and loving God, may your peace that passes all understanding guide my feet today. Amen.
Written by Emily Wright, Senior Pastor at WHPC
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
The most distinct memory I have of being relaxed and at peace is Christmas Day 2009. All the presents had been unwrapped. Big readers in my family, we had all given each other books, and each person now retreated to his or her favorite spot to dig into a delicious novel, history, or in my case, ethical treatise on war and peace—a new volume by my favorite philosopher that, being a serious nerd, I had actually requested. As I lay down on my childhood bed, however, sleep was more persuasive than any argument on the page. I put the book down and let my eyelids droop. That fall had been the most difficult of my adult life to that point—my first real job, my first semester teaching in an under-resourced, rural high school. I wasn’t just sleepy; I was bone-tired. Exhausted. God’s grace to me in that moment was simply rest. Nestled under my quilt, I felt held, completely free of care, and peaceful until ring of the dinner bell.
Prayer - Lord of all, in anxious times, you hold us in your steady and loving gaze. You offer grace to us, a peaceful place of rest in every breath. May we find these holy moments today—moments when we can be still, breathe deeply, and know your nearness. Give us peace. AMEN.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Psalm 85:8
Emotions ran high as the church leaders expressed opinions. Good arguments were made to start a building project, but fears and impediments to the plan existed. As the discussion continued, voices were raised, and fingers were pointed. “The future of the church depends upon this!” shouted one side, while the other insisted “This will bankrupt our congregation and endanger our future!” Then an elderly woman spoke up. “Brothers and sisters, I believe we need to pray. Pray with me that we set aside our own ideas and listen instead to what God is asking of us and of our church… pray with me.” So we did. We listened to her calm, soothing voice. We listened to her turn our fears and our anger over to God. We listened to her ask for the courage to follow God’s lead. When she finished, the room had changed. “We are going to do this, aren’t we?” said the leader most opposed to the building project. “If it’s something we all feel called to do, then yes” said the biggest advocate for the building project. Peace filled that room and blessed that session.
Prayer - Loving God, come close to us and bring us peace. Amen
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
“Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” Isaiah 57:19
I’ve been surprised many times in my life by how near God’s peace is, whether I personally feel near to it or not. I’ll never forget when our daughter had some significant health scares. Every quick trip to the ER, every scan, and every test result only led to more questions and more tests. My wife and I would be frantic and worried, yet when we would force ourselves to slow down and be still in God’s presence, peace would come. Eventually, she was healed and healthy, but then the medical bills were piling up. Stress, anxiety, worry would take the lead again. Eventually, we would remember God and force ourselves to be still in His presence. A few days after one such experience, we found a check on our front porch from a group of friends who wanted to help. It was almost exactly the amount of the outstanding bills. Peace. Healing.
Or the time that I was avoiding God and a certain situation in my life for months because I didn’t want to deal with it. However, there was no peace in my avoidance. Finally, I gave in, drove home from work and decided to sit in my dark living room and wait for God’s guidance. I waited and waited and waited…eventually it came. Peace washed over me in that moment. The path before was difficult, there was good reason I avoided it, but I had peace that eventually lead to healing as I walked that road. Peace. Healing.
Prayer - God of surprises, come close to us and bring us peace! Amen
Written by Kyle Bender, Director of Family Ministry at WHPC
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
It was cold, and all that was aglow was the moon peeking behind the shroud of clouds in the night sky. It was enough light to see the hurt in James eyes, you see his mother had just dropped him off at youth group and when a fellow peer asked how he was doing James erupted and walked away from the youth building and into the forest. My pursuit was not in vain, and I was relentless because I did not want to leave a youth wandering the forest but also because there was hurt behind the pleas to leave them alone and stop following them. We made it out of the thick brush and were in the parking lot facing the youth room. It was then that my mind was racing what peace could I offer this teenager who was hurt from continuing to process his new reality of divorced parents which bubbled over when a peer asked a simple, “How are you?”. What did I have to offer to give him peace. I sat 6 feet in front of James as he mumbled that no one cared for him, not his mother, father, siblings, I drowned out these please with silent prayer hoping for some enlightenment of peace. After a few moments James began to cry quietly and we sat, I said nothing, I remained still just being present with him because I knew that this eruption of hurt was beyond my healing. In that moment I knew Jesus was present and that relationship was peace enough for the both of us.
We sat in silence another 40 minutes and James did not magically come out of his hurt but he did calm down enough to just word vomit what he was feeling and it was sacred and peaceful.
Prayer - Loving God, hold us in your relationship so that we may have peace not as a thing to grasp to but a reality of our relationship with you. Amen
Written by Jose Suarez, Director of Youth Ministries at WHPC