Sunday, December 8, 2013

Peace on Earth

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, and I want to talk about the candle of Peace. The prophet Isaiah, when listing the names of the coming Messiah, said that He would be called the "Prince of Peace." And in fact, Jesus does bring a spirit of peace and love to the hearts and souls of many people each day. But when it comes to peace in our world, those same followers of Jesus have often done precious little to help the cause. The Christian church has often been at the forefront of causing divisions in our world rather than helping to heal them. We are so quick to point out our "superiority" and the faults, flaws and differences in others that we fail to grasp the fact that the love of God is meant to bind us together, not separate us.

Over the past 30 years or so, the evangelical church has often supported political positions that make us seem like war-mongers. We worry about being safe from communists, terrorists and others who wish USAmerica ill, so we build vast armies and greater weapons.  We live in a world where some defense is needed, I suppose. But we too frequently use violence as a first choice instead of the final option. This shows an incredible lack of faith in God. The great Tom Leher once wrote about Israel, "The Lord's our shepherd says the Psalm, but just in case- we're gonna' build a bomb!" Our strength should be found in our faith, not in our weapons. We ignore Jesus' teachings about being peacemakers because they do not fit in with our fears. On the world stage the followers of Jesus have too often failed to honor the Prince of Peace with our actions.

Why is this? I believe it is because we fail to be peacemakers as individuals. I grew up knowing too many "church" people who talked of peace- and were willing to fight with anyone who disagreed with them! We cannot bring peace to the world if we can't bring it to our homes and relationships. I cannot have anger and hatred towards my next door neighbor and expect to bring the love of Christ to the larger stage. I cannot reach out to a hurting world if I don't make peace with my own family. When I was in the 8th grade, the school chorus I was in sang a song at our Christmas program called Let There Be Peace On Earth. The message was simple- if there is to be peace on our planet, it must begin with each of us. One relationship at a time. I have heard the song hundreds of times since, and it never fails to move me. The angels left the shepherds with a promise of "peace on earth and goodwill towards men" on that most holy night we celebrate at Christmas time. If peace is to begin with you, then who is it you must make peace with? Who must you forgive? Who must you ask for forgiveness? Who must you compromise with in the name of love? Read the lyrics to Let There Be Peace On Earth (or click that link to hear it on YouTube) and decide- in a country where we spend endless hours discussing our differences, what will YOU do to bring us together? It's Christmas. Light the candle of peace in your soul- choose to make a difference. Choose peace. 

Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
We are family.
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

Jesus, the only hope for me is you...and you alone!

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