The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths. Their roads they have made crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace.Isaiah 59:8
Dear members and friends,
I encountered the teachings of Buddha when I was 16. I read many Buddhistic scriptures, but just one teaching possessed my entire attention: it is possible to reach a state of being that is free of all pain called Nirvana. Buddha proclaimed in his very first message that the source of all pain is a burning that is caused by our desires or attachments. Buddha said, “Buring, everything is burning!” After reading this, I said to myself, “Wow! This man knows something.” At that time, it was pretty clear to me that I was abandoned by both parents without anyone caring about my wellbeing. As I was navigating the challenges of life and how to survive, I experienced an unquenchable anger that felt like a fire burning within. However, I noticed one undeniable fact that the angrier I became, the more pain I felt. Expressing my anger toward others did not give any relief at all. It seemed inevitable that I would live in anger forever. Thus, the teaching of Buddha came to me as a light in my complete darkness.
Peace is an important word in the Bible as it is expressed through the name of the city of David, Jerusalem, meaning “double peace.” However, the Hebrew word for peace could also be translated into “completeness, soundness, or welfare.” Peace with which God wishes to bless humans is not just cessation of war, pain, or conflict, but a completeness in God that includes absence of war, pain, conflict, struggle, crookedness, and selfishness. One key point in cultivating peace in the Bible may be found in the word “justice.” In Deuteronomy, we read, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (16:20) Justice is often mentioned in the Old Testament as an attribute of God in the way that God always judges with fairness and mercy. How would a human being cultivate justice? Justice means to have fairness and mercy in judgment. Fairness is only possible when we are able to detach ourselves from our own feelings and self-centered view, and mercy is only possible when we are capable of empathy, or feeling and understanding the pain of others.
My brothers and sisters in God, this is the second week of the Advent Season. I invite you all to take a moment and meditate upon the word peace, and what it means to have peace. May the peace of God be present in your meditation and give you rest and comfort.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee