The big, bold sign proclaimed, “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All,” and underneath it was an entire wall of televisions filled with a variety of images of violence taking place in one form or another. Some of the images were of terrorist attacks, some of mass shootings, and others were individuals screaming at each other.
Our world feels incredibly, increasingly violent. And the fact is, the place the vast majority of us will experience an absence of peace is with another person. Statistically, most people will not be a victim of a terrorist attack, a mass shooting, or all out war. However, with a family member, a neighbor, a coworker, or even online, all of us are very susceptible to being attacked by one another.
We should be ever-vigilant, for we never know when a terrorist, an imbalanced individual with a gun or another weapon, may decide to attack the place in which we find ourselves. The other more likely scenario calls for much deeper reflection. What are the words and actions I am taking toward others? Are they in fact, in the end, meant to be an attack?
As we enter into this season of Advent, I am reminded of these words from the prophet Isaiah:
“For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)
In this season when we are watching and waiting, how are we preparing for the Prince of Peace?
“So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” (Eph 2:17-20)
Those of us who have chosen to follow in the Way of Jesus are called to bring peace to those who are far off – all those who are suffering from violence in our world and to those who are near – our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and the strangers we encounter.
May we hold fast to the words we hear in our Prayer for Peace in the Book of Common Prayer:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Rom 15:13)