COS Lenten Devotions
March 18, 2022
War and Peace
*written February 24th
And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.” (Words of Jesus, Matthew 24:6)

Echoes of August 1914 in Serbia or September 1938 in the Sudetenland.

No longer a rumor, this morning Russia has invaded Ukraine.  Tanks roll across the border into the heart of Ukraine.  Cyber assaults on banking and government websites disable the country.  Graphic footage shows rocket attacks, bloodied faces, and death.  Families huddle underground in the subway.  A nation of patriots who only last week was drilling with plywood guns vows to fight with actual weapons to save its country.  The world and the evil that men do have brought war.
On a smaller scale, we, too, have daily battles: fears about finances, crime, disease, worries about the welfare of our family and friends, the challenges of aging, loneliness, road rage, phone scams, endless robocalls.  Contemplating these makes my heart pound and my head spin. HELP!

And He does.  Jesus promises us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Words of Jesus, John 14:27)

His words are simple but not easy.  After viewing these wars or struggling with our own daily battles, what are some concrete ways to achieve this peace which surpasses understanding?

Some things I do:

  • Every morning, first thing, thank God for bringing you safely through the night.  Look up the Hebrew morning prayer Modeh Ani which thanks God for restoring your soul to you at the start of the new day.
  • Take a deep breath.  Take a couple of deep breaths.  Refocus your physical being while remembering to be grateful for God’s simple gift of breath.
  • Listen to a favorite calm piece of music.  I like Bach, e.g., Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or the Bach harmonization of Oh, Sacred Head Now Wounded.  Chord resolutions in these intricate yet familiar arrangements speak to me about how thorny parts of our lives resolve themselves to joyful conclusions.
  • Walk outside to observe nature.  Tiny lemon butterflies tumble on puffs of air. The juvenile hawk perched on our streetlight squawks his complaints.  Lefty, the one-antlered deer looks up with a “who, me?” stare as he crosses the street to get to the creek.  (If I stay still, she won’t see me.)  A red-headed woodpecker backs down the trunk of the pine oak to be next in line at the suet.  (Mealworms – good.) Crushed silvery sprigs of lavender leave subtle fragrance on my fingers. This is my Father’s world.
  • Read aloud a favorite passage from Psalms or our worship.  Reciting from memory is even better – have the 23rd Psalm, Lord’s Prayer, or Apostles Creed with you wherever you go.  (Take comfort in the familiar.)
  • Do something good for someone else.  Write a thank-you note.  Thank the bagger at Kroger’s.  Smile.

Prayer:  Now that I’ve regained it, Lord, let me be an instrument of Thy peace. Amen