Pause + Breathe:: DOWNLOAD the Advent calendar + devotional journaling guide. Meditation:: Peace (Shalom)
If hope is the act of continuing in life in the face of adversity, then peace/shalom is the act of rising up and making something of life, together, in community, in the face of that pressure. Advent is a reminder of the pressure that alchemizes adversity.
There are many parallels between Tamar and Ruth. Ruth was a widow left without a child in a patriarchal society, like Tamar. They both steadily pursued Kinsman-Redeemers through the Levirate law—both are ancestresses of King David and Yeshua. Boaz, like Judah, acknowledged Ruth's righteous aims, “You have shown more kindness now than before...” (Ruth 3:10) and he claims her to be a "virtuous woman" (Ruth 3:11, think Proverbs 31).
The legacies of Tamar and Ruth become foundational for the New Covenant (covenant means bond or union) through the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy of Yeshu that, extraordinarily for the time, includes the names of five women, including Tamar and Ruth.
As the story of Ruth ends, the author of Ruth gives us several more distinct hints that we should hyperlink Ruth to Tamar. First, the elders in the gates of Bethlehem give a blessing that explicitly compares the two women (Ruth 4:12). Second, the chapter concludes with a brief genealogy, beginning with Tamar’s son Perez and going to Ruth’s great-grandson David (Ruth 4:18-22).
These women, despite their sufferings + rejection, wait in their irrevocable covenant belonging with all that they have. What does this look like for us as we wait in a hope that offers peace (shalom) in the form of a meal within covenant community?
Ponder:: Peace Embodied in a Meal
What comes to mind when you think of peace? For many of us, it is the absence of disturbance. When we hear peace, we expect ease and tranquility rather than sharing a meal. The radical transformation that the Bible offers with the word “shalom”—wholeness for all creation is about sharing generously with one another.
The Hebrew word for peace "shalom" offers more than a petition for bliss uninterrupted. It offers the hospitality of a peace meal—figuratively and literally.
Momma Ruth is our beacon of peace/shalom. Like Tamar, she trusted in the God who saw her and found shalom despite the abounding disturbances around her. May we embody the peace of Mother Ruth. A peace that reminds us that the Beloved extends a peace meal to us all and cares for the well-being of all creation, especially those on the margins.
She harvested shalom and hope when her life was replete with loss + displacement. Collectively, in the shared pain and trauma with her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth generously shares her meals of barley + benevolence. Her covenant (covenant means bond or union) was not only to Naomi but her descendants in the radical act of daring shalom-making, of hoping, and the act of rising up, in her body and in spirit.
Ruth, a counter-culture shalom-maker and foreigner became foremother to a King who takes after her. Yeshua brings shalom in the midst of our waiting. God sees our needs + comforts us even when there is yet more hardship ahead.
There is undeniable hardship + rejection in the story of Ruth, a migrant worker—yet, it was no match for the provision + presence of peace because of the Bread of Heaven who nourishes + sustains (John 6:27-58). May we rise up into this peace/shalom and feast on a peace that transcends all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Poetry:: Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
Read + Ruminate:: Read Ruth + Proverbs 31 - Peace in the Story of Ruth's Covenant Devotion
Listen:: Bread of Heaven, by Fred Hammond.
Until next time, Scribble. Speak. From your soul.
Links for further discovery
Visit the Advent series page to listen to the podcast and more. Next, we will open another Advent door... Joy
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LEAVE A COMMENT: What is peace (shalom) offering you in this season?