Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Reflection #24: Peace on earth?

What am I learning this advent season?  To slow down, to listen.  And to reflect on peace on earth.

The song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" was played twice at church yesterday; it was written in a time of despair for Longfellow, and during the Civil War.  "There is no peace on earth, I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men."

Yes, hate is strong, and hate is the enemy of peace.  Hate is the core of what destroys shalom, wholeness, which is the biblical idea of peace.  But just saying to replace hate with love is kind of shallow.  Hate is a disease, a symptom of sin, and sin is rebellion against God.  Jesus didn't just bring peace in the form of a verbal message, but by bringing a way to be forgiven and to submit ourselves to his authority.  If we submit ourselves to his authority, we are no longer hating and rebelling.  Peace comes from law and order, not the other way around.  Authority and power and justice lead to peace. 

Peace on earth is a wonderful sentiment, but Longfellow as it right when he says, "God is not dead nor doth he sleep.  The wrong shall fail, the right prevail. .. . "  He looks forward to a time when Christ returns, but to the hope that even now people can submit to God's sovereign authority and find internal peace that would lead to external peace.

I have been praying for the demise--politically or physically, I would take what I can get--of Kim Jong Il.  He is dead now, and in hell, and I can't think of anyone who deserves it more because of what he did to his own people, especially the Christians.  He thought himself a god, and now he knows better.  All that said, I deserve hell, too, because I know I could make myself into a little god.

I believe it is time to pray in all fervency the Lord's Prayer, "Deliver us from evil."  Not just to pray the narcissistic request, "Deliver me from the things I don't like" but truly "Deliver us, the church, from what Satan would do to destroy it and the work of God."

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