“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
“Wow. You picked a heck of a time.”
This, or something very much like it, is the response I typically get when I tell people I am currently completing a residency in hospital chaplaincy. They don’t need to elaborate. The meaning is clear.
In this season, we are reminded that peace comes in times and places we least expect. In the Christmas story, the Prince of Peace did not descend out of a clear blue sky, bringing stillness to all the world. He came meekly, amid livestock. Peace came as a squalling baby boy, born to a teenage girl and confused carpenter, into a world that was no more peaceful than it is today.
A hospital during the second year of a pandemic might be the place and time we very least expect to find peace. There have been times this year where peace seemed very far away, indeed. Yet, the Christmas story tells us it is in exactly a place such as this that peace appears. A place where comfort comes amid suffering, healing comes amid illness, and life comes into the world amid death. A place where peace comes, not in one great arrival, but in countless unexpected moments in these old rooms and halls.
Peace is among us here, against all expectation. In a word of good news to an anxious spouse. A cup of water to thirsty lips. A smile of encouragement to a weary soul.
Where do you see peace? When have you been the one to bring it, perhaps without even knowing? In these four weeks of Advent, we reflect and prepare for the arrival of a peace that surpasses all understanding. May your reflection this season reveal the tangible peace that is within and among us, always.
Ryan Fordice is Chaplain Resident at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. He previously served as Lutheran Campus Minister for the University of Chicago. He holds a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in religion from Luther College.