Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A different kind of peace

It was difficult to light the peace candle on the Advent wreath this week.  The kids were fighting and trying my patience, and I extinguised both candles and sent them to bed before we even got to our devotional time.  It wasn't just their fighting that got to me, but the evidence all around of a world not at peace...

San Bernadino
etc, etc...

There is fighting in my social media feed over gun control and the Second Amendment, even as we have become numb to the news of regular mass shootings and acts of violence in our own country.  When the leader of a well-known religious college incourages students to arm themselves, and a Presidential candidate makes so many racist and Islamophobic injunctions that they are no longer shocking, it's hard to hope in peace.  It's hard enough to find peace within my own heart, my own family.

Perhaps that is why we light the candle.  To hope in the darkness with faith that it will be accomplished.  Maybe it's a signal to stop and breathe, to watch the light as it flickers, and to still ourselves.

One of Maryn's favorite books is The Quiet Book.  I love it, too, and I often equate peace and quiet (and wring my hands that there's so little of either).  It illustrates in sparse words and charming illustrations the different types of quiet:

Pretending you're invisible quiet.
Lollipop quiet.
Swimming underwater quiet.
Last one to be picked up from school quiet.
Bedtime kiss quiet.

It has me thinking of the different types of peace.  What if peace doesn't look or feel like I have imagined?  I think of the different types of peace I have experienced this week...

Walking with a good friend peace.
Saying goodbye to a loved one, even though it hurts peace.
Trusting that doing the little bit we can is enough peace.
Listening instead of speaking peace.
Lighting a candle peace.
Counting to 10 before reacting peace.

Advent calls us to a different way of being, a way of living in expectation and of sharing the light that we already carry with us.  It invites us to not be afraid, but to trust in the light of Christ, who is already with us.  It calls us to be messengers of peace, hope, love, and joy, as we welcome the stranger, the refugee, the homeless.  In doing so, we care for Jesus who was all of these things.  It institutes a counter-cultural way of living that is not about ourselves, but is about bringing the Kingdom of God.  This is a kingdom build not on violence, separation, or power, but on radical love, community, and social justice.

May we light a candle, then, and trust that God's peace is with us.  May we shine that peaceful light into a darkened world and trust in the power of Christ, the light of the world, understanding that the darkness will not overcome it.