I just got in from a last-minute, emergency supply run to the grocery store before the big blizzard hits the Northeast! As I sent the kiddos off to school today, I decided to make a huge pot of beef stew for dinner to keep us warm and comfortable while we hunker down and wait for the snow to pile up. Tomorrow when they’re out of school for a snow day, we’re probably going to make a snow –man. Scratch that, my hubby from Illinois can take those babies out to make a snow-man. I’ll sit in my warm house and manage the kettle for hot cocoa. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of snow…just not the implications of it. Like right now, my cozy socks are slightly wet from stepping too close to the corner where I kicked off my snow-covered boots. Boo! Socks should be warm and comforting. Therefore, I made one of my favorite comforting breakfasts today—cream of wheat in the style of “The Neighborhood Restaurant” in Somerville, MA. We live maybe ten minutes from this gem of a spot. Their prices are amazing for the portions and everything tastes delicious. Even their hot cereal which is usually what I’m happy to order just a bowl of when we go for brunch. So, to mitigate my cold feet, I’m going to warm my belly.
Behold and click the picture to go to the best copy-cat recipe I’ve found. I doctor it a bit depending on my mood, sometimes I use pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon. You an also use your Trader Joes coffee/chocolate grinder too. That would be delish.
Oh and yeah, peep the French press. That’s what’s up. I bought flowers while at the story because Hoda and Kathie Lee said a lady always have flowers and I am nothing if not a lady and I lit the candle for ambiance. I figure, when you invite the Savior of all humankind, the Light of the World, mind you, to your quiet time a lit candle adds gravitas and “umph”. It was my way of saying, “See Lord, I’m for real about this devo time, I even lit a candle.” Boom. Plus…it’s pretty.
So, onto today’s time with Jesus. Who I’m pretty sure was impressed with my candle. I mean, it does have our family’s monogram. Right?
Ok, to the sermon I listened to while making breakfast: Pastor Brian called it, “The Mystery of Mary” and I read Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation, or more commonly called, “Mary’s Angelic Visitation” (emphasis mine).
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[a]
29 But when she saw him,[b] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
There was so much good in the sermon, but my biggest take-away was the difference between the world’s perception and pursuit of peace from the Jesus way. So I’m going to spend five-minutes reflecting on that.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this:
At the time of Jesus’ birth, he was born under the Roman rule. Rome was at her strongest. Her economy was booming and her military undefeated. This time that lasted roughly 240 years is known as the, Pax Romana, the peace of Rome. Since yesterday’s reading about John the Baptist and the way of peace that Jesus, our Dayspring will guide us, I’ve been intrigued. Of all the teachings of Jesus, I gravitate towards his peace teachings. I love the symbolism of the dove and obviously, I want to seek Shalom of God in my everyday life. I want to be a Shalom Sister, a woman who seeks the peace of Christ in every moment, in every relationship, in every circumstance that God guides me into, but I’m intrigued by the phrase, Pax Romana, peace of Rome. When I talk about peace to an unbeliever are we talking about the same thing or more specifically, are we imagining the achievement of peace the same way. I don’t know. According to the Bible and history, Rome used force and money and power over their enemies to make peace. Jesus was born and lived during the Pax Romana, but still the people cried out for peace, they cried out for wholeness, they cried out for a better way. A peace that some may say surpasses understanding. And so I get it. I get how on paper this thirteen year old, poor, Jewish girl was not the ideal candidate to nurture the Christ in her very own body. What resources did she have to care for him? What power could she throw around to protect him? What status did she have to make a way for him? Nothing. Yet, God chose her. A foolish choice you might say. I mean, I totally think so. I’d rather be born to Michelle Obama right now than to some tween living the projects. For real. But, if God was seeking to prolong or produce Pax Romana, then I think he would have made an obvious choice of a noble, rich, well-connected woman. But, he’s not interested in sustaining a failing empire, he’s interested in setting up his Kingdom. And his Kingdom looks nothing like the empire.
I see the differences between Pax Romana and Pax Chrisi, the peace of Christ, in the angel Gabriel’s address to Mary:
Where Pax Romana says, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no on will.”
Pax Christi says, “Rejoice, for the Lord is with you”.
Where Pax Romana says, “You have every reason to be afraid. Everyone is out to get you.”
Pax Christi says, “Do not be afraid…you have found favor with God.”
Where Pax Romana says, “No one is trustworthy, everyone breaks their promises, so be cunning and conniving to get your way.”
Pax Chrisi reminds us of the details of the prophecies that he will come and proves that God not only remembers his promises to us, he makes good on them.
Where Pax Romana says, “Without force or finances peace is impossible.”
Pax Christi, “For with God, nothing will be impossible.”
So I’m wondering now, what man-made, human, fallible ways do I try to make peace in my life? In what ways am I living under Pax Romana in my life? Do I say with my mouth I trust God for all our finances, but secretly worry because my sense of peace is tied up in jingling coins and ripped cornered bills? Do I say I want to be a peacemaker but use manipulation to get what I want, even if it’s from the customer service rep at Kohls? I don’t know…it’s a lot to think about. But I do know this…I want the peace of the Everlasting Kingdom more than the peace of a temporary kingdom. I want to say yes to the Pax Christi, the peace of Christ, even if it’s going to be hard and even if I don’t understand it. I know God is with me, for me, trustworthy, and with him nothing is impossible. This is what I’ll remember this week when I pass the peace of Christ at church.
(Confession: I went over. But I’ve had two cups of coffee and I could write on peace for days, y’all. )
Seeking and passing to you the Pax Christi,