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Grace notes – ‘Waging peace’

This past week there were two major headlines in the news: Former First lady Rosalynn Carter died, and a potential Israel-Hamas fighting pause/some (but not all) hostages to be released. Maybe.

In the tributes for Mrs. Carter, someone on the news quoted the Carter Center’s mission statement: “Waging peace. Fighting disease. Building hope.”

What a contrast. A horrifically brutal war in a region that always seems to be on the brink of war, and a life celebrated for working towards peace and hope, “waging peace.”

What an interesting phrase.

To wage war is to be actively engaged in it, on the battlefield both on the offense and the defense, constantly on mission.

In a 2003 New York Times story about war, historians determined that of the past 3,400 years, the world has known less than 300 years of peace.

We are a world continually at war, not at peace. Hostility is the norm. Peace is the rare oddity.

Every day it seems someone calls the newsroom with a complaint or a story of injustices done to them or someone else, real or perceived.

They tell us about their pain, physical, mental, financial, emotional.

Some, maybe most, have spiritual pain, although not many recognize it.

They call us hoping we can take away their pain. They call wanting peace.

But as news reporters all we can do is tell their stories in the paper. That may or may not bring them relief, and even if it does it’s temporary at best because we are only human and, therefore, powerless to take away people’s pain and give them peace.

However, there is a peace available to anyone who wants it. That’s what the Cross was all about.

As we enter into the Advent season, Christians prepare to welcome Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who came to Earth to wage peace on humanity.

I once heard a pastor say, “If God has waged peace on us, then that presupposes a war. We are born at war with God and as a result, we are at war with each other and even with ourselves.”

Our sin separates and alienates us first from God and then from each other.

And yet, we long for peace.

But no matter how hard we may try, as fallible humans we cannot manufacture a sustaining peace.

The good news: Because we can’t provide our own lasting peace, and because of his great love for his people, God did it for us by sending his Son, Jesus, to broker peace on our behalf.

Jesus was “handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus…has done for us” (Romans 4:25-5:1).

That’s why, even though we live in a world at war, whether in a nation at war or in a family at war, God gives his peace that passes all human understanding, a peace that keeps a person’s mind and heart at rest, even in the midst of turmoil.

It’s a foretaste of the once-and-for-all, eternal peace that’s yet to come when Jesus returns and restores everything we have destroyed with our un-peace.

The manger, the Cross and the empty tomb are signs of God’s promise to us that this is so.

Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at