I have this affinity for Christmas music, perhaps due to the resonating truths married to simple melody that stirs something in me. While it’s not necessarily about Christmas, this enchanting carol, Dona Nobis Pacem, has long haunted my ears.
There are only three words, “Dona nobis pacem,” which is latin for “grant to us peace.” I encourage you to take just a moment and let this beautiful instrumental soothe your soul.
What a beautiful prayer. Grant to us peace. What a fitting holiday sentiment. And I find myself wrestling with the weight of things that don’t seem particularly peaceful. This week alone I have spent almost 20 hours in or driving to and from hospitals. My heart has been heavy for folks that are very dear to me who are in times that are not principally characterized by peace.
I was thinking about two separate episodes out on the Sea of Galilee when sudden storms put even the experienced sailors among Jesus’ disciples to fright.
On the first occasion, Jesus was in the boat. He was exhausted. He fell asleep in the back of the boat and was unphased by the storm. The panicked men around him awakened him with somewhat accusatory cries, “Don’t you care that we could die here?”
Jesus asked why they were afraid with a convicting jibe, “O you of little faith.” Then he stood up and spoke to the wind and the sea, “Peace. Be still.” The Scripture says, “…and there was a great calm.” The disciples were now surrounded by a tangible, observable peace. But the Scripture says, “And they were filled with great fear…””
Some time later, they were out on the same lake – maybe even in the same boat. A similar storm came up and, in the darkest part of the night Jesus came walking on the water to them. Understandably, the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost. But then Jesus spoke to them – waves and wind thrashing around them all, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
I won’t stretch the text to say that they all were immediately filled with great calm, but it was enough so that one of them, Peter, asked to come walking on the water to meet Jesus. Peter’s experience there is a story for another post. But the end of this account ends with the observation that these men responded in worship – a worship born of peace, even in the midst of a storm.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we remember that God already aswered our longing, the cry of this beautiful song, “Grant us peace.” In sending the Son, called by the prophet “the Prince of Peace,” He sent us the only real souce of peace – His own presence, Immanuel, “God with us.”
May He continually grant us peace within despite the storms without.