As the year comes to a close, so does our time with the ASP 2019 Theme– Be the Peace. We spent this year pondering what it meant to embody peace in all aspects of our lives.

1 Samuel 25:6 says…

Thus you shall salute him:
‘Peace be to you, and
peace be to your house,
peace be to all that you have.’

This is a greeting David sent to a man named Nabal– a man David had never met. When we approach any person, we should greet them in peace and with grace. This is how ‘strangers’ become ‘friends we just haven’t met yet.’

We are excited about this verse as it reminds us to embody the peace of our faith– to bring that peace with us where we go and where we serve, but also to bring that peace with us home. Be the peace in your home, be the peace at work, be the peace in class, be the peace at the grocery store, be the peace in Appalachia. Be the peace.

In this final season, ASP’s Director of Spiritual Programs, Neal Bowes, reflects on what our theme means in light of the Christmas season upon us.

The Christmas Mission: Be the Peace

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Merry Christmas, y’all! Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. It is the season of peacepeace on Earth and good will to all. So, what is peace?

Peace does not imply or require the absence of conflict or struggle. In fact, when the Prince of Peace came into the world, he arrived to anything but a peaceful situation. There wasn’t even a room at the inn, and as soon as the government found out about him, they tried to kill him. Mary and Joseph had to flee with Jesus into another country. No, the Prince of Peace was not without conflict or struggle.

There was more trouble, too. While there were certainly times of great joy, there was also the incessant hounding and disrespect of the religious leaders, being driven out of town and nearly over a cliff, and his eventual torture and crucifixion. The Prince of Peace lived—and loved—in conflict and struggle and trouble.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33 (NIV)

And there it is, the meaning of Christmas. Jesus came, not because the world was a wonderful, peaceful place, but so that we could have peace in a world full of conflict, struggle, and trouble. That peace is available to you, always and everywhere, no matter what. May you experience that peace in this season. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Neal Bowes , ASP Director of Spiritual Programs