Friends, we are IN the season of Advent. We are on a journey of hope, peace, love and ultimately Joy! This coming Sunday is the second Sunday of this blessed season, and our focus is on Peace.
For many of us, we think of peace as the absence of chaos or conflict. That is one way for us to consider peace, however for me that doesn’t get at the sense of the peace we are encouraged to seek during Advent. The peace that is being advocated during Advent can be characterized as a time of “coming together, of building a community of faith that is open to all. This is why we see Christmas movies telling a story of restoration, of broken relationships that are healed.”
In a world which can seem topsy-turvy much of the time, to think in terms of a real and lasting peace seems almost inconceivable. My friend Moussa has traveled half way across the world to come see me, and I am grateful for him and his being here. He’s been telling me in Central African Republic where he lives, the times there have gotten tense. There is the imminent threat of civil war breaking out. The economy has plummeted, the situation is dire. As he was preparing to travel here, he had so much on his plate, so many things to attend to. It was a frenetic and stressful time for him. As he was waiting in Newark, NJ for his flight to Dallas, we talked on the phone. All of a sudden, he remembered he had forgotten to bring some things he intended to pack. He was just beside himself. It occurred to me (I credit the Holy Spirit for this spark) he had remembered to bring the most important thing…himself. I relayed that thought to him, and told him to not fret, everything was ok because he was going to be here. That brought a real sense of peace and serenity to him AND me. Thank you Holy Spirit for your overflowing wisdom and grace!
As we are on our journey of Advent, let’s concentrate our thoughts on what it means to have and experience peace. When there is war, and the rumors of war breaking out around us, is peace merely the absence of such? Or is peace a much more positive and life-giving quantity?
In Isaiah 11:9-10 we read, “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious”. Can we imagine a time of true peace? A time where animosity does not prevail. A time where in place of anger, division, hatred, violence, and aggression, we experience an overwhelming sense that we are to love with every fiber of our being. A time where the peace of God flows through us and covers the whole world. This is the kind of peace I believe Advent is trying to lead us toward. The Christ child is coming to bring a peace that passes all understanding. A peace is coming that will pervade our lives, our witness, our communities, and our very being. We will not only “not hurt or destroy,” we will build up and nurture a new community where all are valued, all are included, and all are treated with dignity and love. We will not have to fret over and be sorrowful about what we haven’t done, God’s peace will inform us that what we need, we already have, God’s presence WITH us.
In a reading for the second Sunday I took note of the following phrase: “We are the followers of that root of Jesse Isaiah spoke of. We are the ones who are now called to stand as a signal to the world, to all of creation, that peace is the will of the one who created us.” Imagine that, you and me, we are to be signals of the peace of God to all the world. I like that. I like the idea that I can be a signal of peace in whatever places God leads me to. I can demonstrate peace, and also speak peace into the situations I come upon.
May God’s peace not only be poured into us this season, but may that peace be ingrained in us so thatour footsteps in every place will resound with the words and intentions of everlasting peace. May we be the signals and the sentinels of a peace that flows from God.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,