This post is part of an ongoing guest blogger series on the peace of Christ. Today’s reflection comes from Jan Edmiston:
I like to make people happy. And when they aren’t happy with me, it makes me feel like failure to the universe. Or at least that’s how things once were.
Our congregation – once ravaged by a church split and still experiencing the effects – had to fire the pre-school director many years ago. The elders had good reasons for doing this, and those reasons were confidential both for the sake of the church and the pre-school director herself. But her parting words to me after I told her to turn in her key were: “I’m going to spend the rest of my life ruining your reputation.” Not good.
So on the first day after the firing, the 62 sets of pre-school parents had already heard some ugly things about me, the church, etc. We had invited them to a meeting in the church parlor after they dropped off their children that morning, and the atmosphere was very tense. Several other preschool staffers had abruptly quit – being told things that weren’t true – so we had called in substitute teachers who didn’t have lesson plans or know the kids’ names. Children were crying. Parents were yelling. One parent spit on me. (Note: you don’t mess with somebody’s preschool.)
Needless to say, I had asked God for help.
I stood in the parlor, ready to offer explanatory words, and once everyone quieted down, I opened my mouth and spoke. And the words that came out sounded . . . kind of amazing. (“That was pretty good,” I said to myself. “Where the heck did that come from?”)
The words were calm and mature and strong and uplifting. One parent said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s obvious that you did what you had to do. Thank you.”
It was a God thing.
Christ’s peace happens when there is no reason why a situation or a soul or a moment would be peaceful and yet it is. It’s not like the “peace” we get from numbing out. It’s not like the “peace” we have when we psych ourselves up for something. It is a real peace, authentic serenity rooted in the total confidence that – in spite of all evidence that we should be freaking out – God is with us and everything’s going to be alright.
Jan Edmiston has been pastor of Fairlington Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA since 1989. She blogs at A Church for Starving Artists. She was born, raised, and educated in Chapel Hill, N.C. – the most beautiful town in the world.