Peace On Earth

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It’s been a difficult Advent to try and speak about peace.  Every where one looks the evidence of its absence is overwhelming.  I would write a few sentences here summing up the news headlines of late but I’d rather not. We all know them far too well.

If I turn from the headlines toward my expanded neighborhood of friends and acquaintances on social media, it seems there is an election looming.  In fact, there seems to be one looming 365 days a year.  And a cursory look at the posts on my feed seem to imply that one particular brand of politics or the other has the solution[s] and/or “leader[s]” to remedy this chronic lack of peace we’ve all been experiencing for quite some time.  Call me cynical but, I’m not really buying what they’re selling.  Seems as though this has been the claim by all sides of every issue for as long as I’ve been alert enough to pay attention.

So, what to do?  Do I give in to the cynicism of the age?

I don’t have an answer.  But I do have my faith.  The faith I have is rooted in a God who loves.  Call me naive.  Call me idealistic.  But, the older I get, my cynicism toward the powers of this world only grows and my faith in this loving God is continually confirmed.  Even when someone throws the turmoil of this world at my “loving God” saying the chaos is proof that my faith is in vain, I realize that I would rather live my faith in this loving God than in the false hopes and unfulfilled promises of the powers that be in our world.  It’s simply a better way to live my life. I would rather live in that love of God than in the fear and frustration offered by the alternative.

One of my favorite quotes about peace is by Nicholas Wolsterstorff:

“The state of shalom is the state of flourishing in all dimensions of one’s existence: in one’s relation to God, in one’s relation to one’s fellow human beings, in one’s relation to nature, and none’s relation to oneself…An ever-beckoning temptation for the [American] evangelical is to assume that all God really cares about for human beings here on earth is that they be born again and thus destined for salvation…  [However], what God desires for human beings is that comprehensive mode of flourishing which the Bible calls shalom…God’s love of justice is grounded in God’s longing for the shalom of God’s creatures and in God’s sorrow over its absence.”

—Nicholas Wolsterstorff

If the system you subscribe to isn’t offering this type of peace…this shalom…then, well, it might not be worthy of your faith.  And it just might be contributing to the absence of peace we’re all enduring in our world.

I think my favorite Christmas song is Christmas Bells and my favorite rendition is by John Gorka.  Check it out here.  (Here is a live version of the song.)

Peace.

It Might Have Been Otherwise

It Might Have Been Otherwise

I got out of bed

on two strong legs

It might have been

otherwise…

—Jane Kenion, Otherwise

It’s a rainy Tuesday and I’ve been awake listening to the soggy morning that awaits, dreading getting out in it.  But, I picked up Garrison Keillor’s compilation, Good Poems, turned to page 25 and read Jane Kenion’s  Otherwise.   It’s a poem that is at once true, familiar and inspiring.  It lives up to Keillor’s criterion of “good poem”.  I get a warm feeling and decide I’ll write a little blog post about it and then leap into the morning.

And then…all of a sudden…it bludgeons me with it’s truth.  It’s sort of like turning on the TV expecting to see “Love It Or List It” or ” Fixer Upper” and instead there are malnourished children or refugees huddled around a burning barrel.  I walk away from Otherwise feeling guilty to actually be walking on those two strong legs, to be drinking hot coffee, to
be sitting in a dry and warm single family dwelling.  It might have been otherwise you know! (I’ve recently been told this is the guilt of a Democrat.)

Sigh…road

So, the matter at hand is that I have a new
day in front of me.  Another day to live life.  It’ll be made up of decisions large and/or small, thoughtful and/or thoughtlessly reflexive. The sum of these decisions will bring me to the end of this day some 16 or 17 hours from now.  I’ll be proud of some.  possible regret some others.  And still more of these decisions will be totally forgotten in
the blur of the routine busyness this day will bring.

My spiritual practice today will be to be more deliberate with my time.  To be more grateful, more conscious of my decisions and the sum of their results.  It could be otherwise.

We praise you with joy, loving god, for your grace is better than life itself.  You have sustained us through the darkness, and you have blessed us with life in this new day.

—The Psalm Prayer at Morning Prayers, The Upper Room Worship Book