Signs of Peace

You may already know this, but just in case: Street signs are so easy to see because they make use of Negative Space. Negative Space is an art and design term, it refers to the space in between objects. If you think about it, you don’t actually read the word “STOP” on a Stop Sign until after you have come to a halt. If we all had to take the time to read street signs in their entirety before knowing what they said…there would be a lot more traffic accidents. Instead, street signs use negative space, the space in between and around the object. A Stop Sign is actually a solid red octagon with some space missing in the middle, and it’s that empty space that spells “S-T-O-P.” Speed limit signs are white rectangles, and the empty black space is shaped as the maximum speed you are allowed to drive in that area. Were you aware of this? Did you know that the reason street signs stand out so clearly is because they are intentionally designed to grab your attention based on what is missing from the object?

That is largely how we begin to notice God at work in our lives and in the world. I believe there are big moments in our lives when lightning may strike, the ground may shake…God uses huge, obvious, loud signals to get our attention. But these are few and far between. In my experience, God tries to get my attention most often through what is missing…what is absent…the negative space in my life.

When I’m lonely, God is inviting me to tend to my relationships. When I’m feeling anxious that something isn’t going my way, God is inviting me to remember that I am not the most important person in the world, and I don’t always get my own way. When I’m hungry—even though I eat three square meals a day, plus snacks—God is inviting me to give thanks for what I have, and to find new ways of satisfying the hunger of others. When life seems too hectic to keep up with, and my short time on earth is flying by right before my eyes…God is inviting me to sit down and think carefully about what is most important…God is inviting me to prioritize my tasks so I can be the person God is calling me to be through all the missing pieces.

When we begin to see the things missing from our lives as God’s invitation to us to participate in the work of Love and Justice in the world…then God’s will begins standing out to us as clearly as a street sign.

This is how we begin to discover God’s Peace…in all the missing pieces of our lives, what is absent from the world. We can’t pretend our world is anything but violent. We can’t hide from the suffering and conflict that surrounds us each day…no matter how much we may want to. But when we begin to notice what is missing from all this chaos—forgiveness, mercy, covenant, laughter—we begin to see how God might be inviting us to fill that space.

Yesterday, a large group of kids and adults from our church went Christmas Caroling, fillingl the lives of others with music, cheer, and laughter.

Last Friday, our community gathered to fill the empty spaces of peoples’ hearts by offering quality hand-made crafts they can give to their loved ones, while raising more than $16,000 for people in need in the process.

This morning, the sun fills the empty dark space of our world, bringing with it a new day, the start of a new week, another opportunity to find where God is calling us…and how we are being invited to fill this world with Hope and Peace.

Here is a famous prayer we recited together yesterday in worship, in case it might help you on your journey this week:

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it’s in giving we receive, it’s in pardoning that we ourselves are pardoned, and it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Brian Gruhn