Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to
preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our
Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (found here)
* * *
Attested to from at least 1225 (according to the OED), the English word peace has indicated “freedom from quarrels or dissension between individuals (or, esp. in early use, between an individual and God); a state of friendliness; amity, concord.”
An even earlier use of the word signifies that peace has indicated “freedom from civil unrest or disorder; public order and security.”
One of the messianic titles is Prince of Peace.
I think we have forgotten how political Advent is.
* * *
My dad was in a very bad car wreck last week. He only suffered a severe concussion and some bruising, but things could have been much worse. When my mom called me to let me know what had happened (before we knew if he would be ok), Amanda and I dropped everything we were doing and headed to Houston.
Suddenly, without warning, nothing mattered except my father’s life.
Our peace had shattered.
The peace of routine and the ordinary and the normal had been broken; the cacophony of Hell broken through.
* * *
The enmity between us and the Other, between us and God, between us and nature has become the defining feature of human existence; it is the human condition. All of our struggles for meaning, for truth, for beauty–all of these reflect the innate disorder of life.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came, and is yet coming, to restore order for “he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” And, since “all things were created by him, and for him,” he is the first principle of their ordering. In his body is the resting of all things for he has “made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.” (found here)
Or, as I’ve written before:
the cosmic kairos
united heaven to earth—a
nuclear flash, the first touch—
in the groaning strain
of two cross-beams.
death undoing death unto
eternity, the hostility
of the universe tamed
with the peace of Love,
and nobly redeemed.
* * *
As Dad rapidly improves, it is easy to return into the fabricated routines that aid in the creation of a false peace, a lulling sense of security. With money and intelligence and relationships, I can more or less create a world where I do not have direct experience of the chaos of the world. But Advent calls us, in longing for and hoping for Christ’s return, to face the trauma of the world armed with the promise of peace.
Advent is political because it insists that the King has declared a Peace, and he will one day return (we hope and we pray) to see that Peace enforced. And, this Advent, for those in Ferguson and Staten Island, those in Palestine and Syria and Yemen, and those across the world who have to face the bleak midwinter without much hope or light, we pray.
And until the second Advent of our Lord, may we work for Peace, and the Justice that goes with it, just like the prophets of old.
* * *
with axe and winnowing fork
you clear a holy space
where hurt and destruction have no place,
and a little child holds sway.
Clear our lives of hatred and despair,
sow seeds of joy and peace,
that shoots of hope may spring forth
and we may live in harmony
with one another. Amen. (found here)