“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace…” (Luke 2)
A Benediction of Peace
Many of us will light the candle of peace in our churches as we mark the second Sunday in this blessed Advent season. Someone will step up to that Advent wreath, touch the candle’s wick with a flickering flame, and dare to speak of peace, even while war rages on around the globe with all its horror and devastation. As we await the coming of Christ, we will pray for peace in our world, peace in our cities, peace in our own anxious and troubled hearts.
The promise of peace winds through the story of Jesus from beginning to end. The angels startled the shepherds in the fields when Jesus was born, praising God and bringing tidings of peace. Near the end of Jesus’ life, when Jesus gathered one last time with his disciples to share a poignant meal, he blessed them with words of peace: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) And after Jesus was resurrected, he appeared to his disciples in all their confusion and grief and offered them once again a benediction of peace. (Luke 24:36)
As my ministry among you in this role now concludes, perhaps a blessing of peace is the most loving thing I can offer.
Peace to you, my friends…
When doubts creep in and fears grip your hearts
When the world’s violence and injustice overwhelm and feel unending
When the congregation you love is struggling, and the future is uncertain
When conflicts arise among you, and healing is your deepest desire
When everything is changing, and nothing seems clear
May the peace that passes all understanding burn brightly within you, unquenchable and sure:
Peace on earth. Peace among you. Peace within you.
May the tender mercies of God’s blessed and persevering peace be with you now and always, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ. Thank you for ten wonderful years of ministry together and such abundant graces all along the way.
With much love,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
Rev. Prestemon’s last day in the Minnesota Conference will be this Friday, December 8. She began her ministry as Conference Minister here on October 1, 2013. She has accepted a call to serve in the UCC’s national ministries as Acting Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Co-Executive of Global Ministries beginning January 16.