Christmas Day: Peace on Earth

“Peace on earth!” sings the angel choir.

“Peace on earth, and glory to God!”

But there has not been peace,

not on earth,

not for a long time.

Peace is as distant as the stars

while war and fear are familiar landscape.

We are so accustomed to the raging of the world

that it is barely news anymore. Only destructions

of enormous magnitude catch our attention

and rend our spirits with sadness.

But not war or malice:

war is for the movies and

malice is for television shows.

The angels sing “Peace,”

and we gladly echo their song,

but in truth we are not familiar with peace

and we doubt that it’s coming to earth anytime soon.

.

Peace on earth … but our hearts are troubled.

A great shining of light … but the darkness is pervasive.

An increase of joy … but we have settled for just getting by.

.

And that is not enough.

It is not enough to just get by.

It is not a fulfillment of the promises of God

just to eke through, not a fulfillment of the hope of Christmas

merely to long for the light while we make ourselves

comfortable with the darkness. It is not

the purpose of Christ’s birth

to give us an annual winter holiday that

does nothing to redeem the earth during the rest of the year.

“Peace on earth!” announces the heavenly host in glory.

Peace & justice & compassion among all people,

and a ceasing of war so to render

the soldier’s boots and

the triage supplies

useful only

as

fuel

for a fire

that blazes in comfort

and draws people together.

“Peace on earth!” not for the moment

of a holiday, but for all time and for all people.

Peace like we have never encountered.

Peace like we have never dared

to believe in.

Peace,

because a birth this day

announces God’s ability to do it.

A birth this day proclaims the fulfillment of it:

peace and justice realized, love and compassion established

by the zeal of God, now and forever! Now! And forever!

Not tomorrow and someday —

peace now and always!

Not justice delayed,

not reconciliation when we’re ready,

not peace after we’ve killed every enemy & secured every border.

A child is born this day, now, who is the Prince of Peace.

Emmanuel has come today, now.

The presence of God

is with us

now,

and in the light

of such glorious good news

we cannot hide away & live as though peace is beyond us.

Peace is here! Christ has come! God is with us,

and the full zeal of the LORD

has inaugurated peace

this day.

Peace!

And even if, with Mary,

we are perplexed, our puzzlement does not

delay the angels’ pronouncement of peace on earth.

“Peace!” the angels sing. “Peace!” proclaim the mountains.

“Peace!” the shepherds rejoice together in their fields.

“Peace!” Mary whispers to her infant son.

.

Peace — no longer an Advent yearning, no longer

a faint dream for a chaotic world.

Peace this day.

Peace —

not for us

to understand.

Peace for us to live.

Peace for us to live now

and forevermore.

Amen!

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