Swanson, John August. Festival of Lights, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: http://www.JohnAugustSwanson.com – copyright 2000 by John August Swanson.

God who wages peace,

we often think of your vision for this world too passively,

simply waiting for conflict to end;

too much as a lack of something negative,

merely wanting our circumstances to be different than they are now.

But your peace is active,

urging us to join you in working for it.

Your peace is the living presence of something good,

filling us to the brim with love and delight.

Inspire, embolden, and equip us to pursue this peace.

To say yes to what is good by setting a boundary on what is unhealthy.

To protect spaces for silence and prayer.

To ask hard questions.

To dare to hope, then take holy risks.

To use the gifts you’ve offered us with confidence and compassion.

To look for ways to partner with others for more impact in your world.

To notice those who are worried or wanting, and to listen to them about how we can best help.

To proclaim your inclusive love unapologetically, even brashly.

To demand justice for all your beloveds.

This is peace.

This is your peace, sent to earth as a surprising bundle of vulnerability.

Peace be with us all as we wait – purposefully – for his birth anew.


Laura Stephens-Reed is a clergy and congregational coach working with ministers and churches across the ecumenical spectrum. Having served in a variety of pastoral roles and denominations, she is primarily affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and has ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Based in northwest Alabama (United States), Laura is married to a United Methodist pastor, and they have a seven-year-old son. She blogs weekly at laurastephensreed.com.

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