Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Peace seems to be popular this time of year. It’s safe to talk about peace during advent. Bring it up during the rest of the year and you get labeled (dismissed) as a liberal hippie who hates America, but as Christmas nears peace becomes respectable again. We hear it in Linus telling us the real meaning of Christmas straight from the KJV. We see it embroidered on pillows, illuminated with lights and glitter, and flashed on the television screen. It is part of the warm fuzzies of Christmas – Peace on Earth.
But what do our words really mean? To quote the prophet Bono – “You hear it every Christmastime When hope and history won't rhyme So what's it worth? This peace on Earth” What are our words worth. What are we asking for? What is it we are caring about?
This Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Peace. Last week we talked about hope – hope that the light does shine in the darkness – that there is good in this world and it’s worth fighting for. It is hard to believe that another world is possible without that hope, but what is hope without action – what is faith without works?
If we do not work for peace then truly what are our words worth? It is ours to raise awareness, ours to sound the alarms, ours to push for change, ours to care for individual lives, ours to follow the way of Christ. Peace on earth requires action and awareness.
This weekend has been set aside as a Weekend of Prayer for Darfur. The violence continues to escalate there, women especially are targeted with violence and rape, and now aid workers are being killed. This is a genocide that is being likened to Rwanda and the Holocaust. If our words “peace on earth” mean anything we will care about peace in Darfur. We will care and take action.
During Advent we look to the incarnation of Christ Jesus. We long for his coming and rejoice in the new word, the new kingdom we ushers in. A Kingdom in which Hope and Peace are possible. Where the darkness does overcome the light and we are the ones working to dispel that darkness through peace. We sing at Advent - O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
To remind us that Peace is not just a cute Christmas phrase, I want to share two prayers. The first is the prayer of a Darfuri woman. The second is the prayer of St. Francis, recalling to us that peace begins with our actions.
The Prayer of Saint 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 Where there is sadness ... joy 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 is in giving ... that we receive, It is in pardoning ... that we are pardoned, It is in dying ... that we are born to eternal life
If you want a reminder of what we need to work for, watch this. U2 – Peace on Earth