Advent 4, Peace: Evening Prayer

Holy One, make speed to save us:
O God, come quickly to help us.

Glory to God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.


Sundays: From Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

To you, O Lord, * I lift up my soul;
Show me your ways, O Lord, * and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
Gracious and upright are you, O Lord; *
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
You guide the humble in doing right * and teach your way to the lowly.
O Lord, all your paths are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
Protect my life and deliver me; *
let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.

Reflection: Creator of the Stars of Night

In this carol, we declare our expectation that with the coming of Christ, the whole creation shall be gathered into a single state of rest:

In Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the universe be blest.

This is very much the meaning of shalom, the Hebrew word for peace is complete or whole. The word can refer to a stone that has a perfect whole shape with no cracks; to a completed stone wall that has no gaps and no missing bricks. Shalom refers to something that’s complex with lots of pieces that’s in a state of completeness, wholeness. It’s like Job who says his tents are in a state of shalom because he counted his flock and no animals are missing. This is why shalom can refer to a person’s well-being. Like when David visited his brothers on the battlefield, he asked about their shalom. The core idea is that life is complex, full of moving parts and relationships and situations, and when any of these is out of alignment or missing, your shalom breaks down. Life is no longer whole; it needs to be restored.

        In fact, that’s the basic meaning of shalom when you use it as a verb. To bring shalom literally means to make complete or restore. So Solomon brings shalom to the unfinished temple when he completes it. Or if your animal accidentally damages your neighbour’s field, you shalom them by giving them a complete repayment for their loss. You take what’s missing, and you restore it to wholeness. The same goes for human relationships. In the book of Proverbs, to reconcile and heal a broken relationship is to bring shalom. And when rival kingdoms make shalom in the Bible, it doesn’t just mean they stop fighting; it also means they start working together for each other’s benefit. This state of shalom is what Israel’s kings were supposed to cultivate, and it rarely happened. So the prophet Isaiah, he looked forward to a future king a prince of shalom. And his reign would bring shalom with no end–a time when God would make a covenant of shalom with his people and make right all wrongs and heal all that’s been broken.

This is why Jesus’s birth in the New Testament was announced as the arrival of peace. Jesus came to restore to wholeness the broken relationship between humans and their Creator. So peace takes a lot of work because it’s not just the absence of conflict. True peace requires taking what’s broken and restoring it to wholeness, whether it’s in our lives, our relationships, or in our world.

Where are you involved in
the peaceful work of restoration at this time?


1 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,*
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
2 for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant;*
from this day all generations will call me blessed.
3 The Almighty has done great things for me* and holy is his name.
4 He has mercy on those who fear him* in every generation.
5 He has shown the strength of his arm;*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
6 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones*
and has lifted up the lowly.
7 He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
8 He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
9 the promise he made to our forebears,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.

We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgment, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness. Christ, have mercy upon us.
We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment, that your justice restores us and heals. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Stir up your power, Lord, and come: and strengthen us by the might of your love; that, although we are hindered by our sins, your abundant grace and mercy may quickly come and save us; for you live and reign with the Father, in the unity of the Holy  Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 Lord God almighty, come and dispel the darkness from our hearts, that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you, the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity. Amen.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing:
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .