An Advent Word of Peace
Lockdown has affected all of us who are unable to be with those we love. We have discovered more intensely than ever, how physical presence is essential to each of us. When that is removed, the loss and loneliness can be unbearable. The presence of a loved one or friend, however, makes all the difference.
Advent – or “coming” – is usually a time of joyful anticipation, as we prepare to join with others and celebrate again the visible coming of Christ into our world. Even though, for Christians, this inner sense of joy is not removed by outward circumstances, we are deeply conscious of those whose Christmas festivity will be very different this year.
One of the names that Jesus was given at his birth is Emmanuel – “God with us.” Perhaps these three words will take on a new relevance now – and indeed will make all the difference. God IS with us, and His overwhelming love can be witnessed in the sum of all who show the compassion and “presence” that we have witnessed this year. This Christmas we really can celebrate the “comfort and joy” that – supremely – Jesus’s coming brings to us.
In sharing our human life – locked down in a body, a refugee at a young age, experiencing all the human emotions and situations of life, He “engaged deeply and wholeheartedly with (the) reality” of our world of conflict as our Patron Archbishop Justin wrote recently.
As he also says – “true peacemaking…. cannot be hurried.” Jesus spent many of his thirty years as a carpenter engaging with every kind of human being who came to Him for His expertise and trade. Only over the last three years did He gradually reveal His true identity, before He fulfilled the prophecies that promised He would bring peace on earth.
Before setting out, CHIPS teams take time to understand the history and culture of the conflict areas to which we are called. However, it is only by settling down there that the “complexity” of the situation can be fully appreciated, and the work of peacemaking begun.
For communities who receive a CHIPS team, the fact that there are people who bother to leave their homes and come to live with those who are in conflict, builds trust. Spending time listening and living with each side in turn, sharing in the difficulties night and day, enables both sides to discover a ‘new vision of reality’ – the reality of the transformative Peace of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Elfrida Calvocoressi, Chair of Trustees