The second Sunday of Advent is often dedicated to the theme of peace, reminding us to strive for inner and outer harmony in preparation for the birth of Christ. Peace, a simple five-letter word, holds an enormously profound meaning, reaching beyond the absence of war or conflict, it embraces tranquility, harmony, and goodwill among all.

So, what does peace look like? It’s perhaps best visualised as the absence of violence, inequality, injustice, or oppression. But it is not just that. Peace is also a kind smile, a helping hand, an open heart, and a compassionate spirit. It is a culture of understanding and acceptance, where differences are not met with hostility but are appreciated and respected.

Why is peace important? It's crucial because it lays the foundation for progress and prosperity. Without peace, growth - whether it be personal, communal, or societal, remains stifled. Only in a state of peace can individuals realise their full potential, societies thrive, and nations move towards progress.

However, peace doesn't exist uniformly in every place or person's life. In different environments, it takes on different shapes and meanings. In a chaotic family situation, peace might be a calm conversation at the dinner table; in a school plagued by bullying, peace might look like everyone treated with respect and dignity; in war-torn nations, peace could mean the end of armed conflict and the start of rebuilding. 

Despite its different guises, we all can and must play a part in promoting peace. Here's how:

1. Develop self-awareness: Understand your actions and how they impact others. This requires self-reflection and active efforts to react positively in challenging situations.
2. Spread kindness: Small acts of kindness go a long way. Extend kindness not only to those who are kind to you but also to those who aren't. It's amazing what a difference a single act of kindness can make.

3. Promote understanding: Differences often lead to conflict. Strive to understand others' perspectives and appreciate their individuality. Create open dialogues and invite perspectives different from your own.

4. Support education: Knowledge eradicates ignorance, which is a big barrier to peace. Advocate for education at all levels, especially focusing on teaching young ones about the importance of peace, empathy, and understanding.

5. Foster community engagement: Participate in or initiate community activities aimed at peace-building. This can be volunteering, contributing to local charities, or being part of community discussions. 

Becoming vessels of peace entails an understanding of peace beyond its surface value, willingness to act for its preservation and promotion, and the fortitude to stand firm against disruptions of peace. To be a vessel of peace means to emanate peace within yourself first, creating an environment of calm and tranquility, then using this personal peace as a source to pacify the disturbances and promote unity in the world around you. 

As many light the candle for the second Sunday of Advent, in preparation for the arrival of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Whether you are a person of faith, any faith or none we can all dedicate ourselves to this pursuit of peace - both within us and around us, ushering a true sense of unity and compassion

Author : Debbie Huxton

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