Monday, December 17, 2007

A Dark and Stormy Night ...

OK, so it was not a dark and stormy night, but it was a cold and windy one when a couple of dozen folks gathered last evening at Lafayette Park to witness to a common desire for peace.
My 16-year-old son, who attended his first peace demonstration in utero during the first Gulf war, graded last night’s witness a 7.5 on a scale of 10. The weather knocked a few points off for him, although it added something for me. He says, “that’s why you have multiple critics.”
He also chided me for “blowing the closing prayer.”
A few dozen tourists had come up while we were standing across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House singing Silent Night, and Bud argued (well and rightly) that they didn’t know why we were there so it was a teachable moment that could have been seized by a prayer that blessed the stones we left on the sidewalk, and all those victims of the war represented by the stones, and, perhaps also the death of civil liberties here so perfectly represented last night by the closure of Pennsylvania Avenue that kept us from crossing to the White House fences due to some vague "security situation."
Instead, I wished folks “peace” and blessed them on their way through the cold and wind.
My colleague, Tara Spuhler, associate pastor at New York Avenue Presbyterian, led the worship last night and she reminded us of the transgenerational responsibilities to pass along the message of peace so that folks of her generation are drawn into movements for peace and justice and empowered there.
I do hope she felt empowered for her words were certainly filled with power, and I was reminded again of my own selfish reasons for continuing the witness. I am filled up by the experience. Last night was not a pleasant one to be out in, and I really did not want to leave the comfort of hearth and home – or couch and cocoa. I’m in the middle of a mild cold, so the couch was, indeed, enticing.
But since I am significantly to blame for this witness, I felt like I had to show up – besides that, I had the stones in the trunk of my car.
But Tara’s words, the wonderful music led by Meade Hannah from Our Lady Queen of Peace, and the opportunity to see a small but committed and ecumenical group of peacemakers refreshed my spirits and brought me closer to the spirit of Advent – the coming of the Prince of Peace.
That spirit, that power, that possibility and promise – that the peacemaker’s time is at hand – is why we witness. For in doing so we lift high that promise and place it in the center of the public square where it shines like an unquenchable flame, demanding attention as the powers and principalities shrink in the face of a fearfulness that they, themselves, unleashed upon the world.
Does the presence of 20 or 30 folks one evening a month standing in the dark in a park across the street from the White House make any difference? In the calculus of public policy probably not at all. But within the broader economy of the commonwealth of the beloved, that kingdom economy ruled by princes of peace and those anointed for the sake of compassion, the balance of power shifts when we witness.
And who knows, perhaps we are only a boffo closing prayer away from peace!
So, by way of do-over, my prayer is that we continue to witness, that we join our voices to the silent witness of the stones, that those in the way of this war find shelter and shalom, that wisdom prevail in places of power, that Advent hope sustain us through the dark winter of war, that the hopes and fears of all the years be met by God-with-us, and that each of you meet the new year full of the love that casts out all fear.

1 comment:

Deblea said...

Thank you for sharing. Every little bit must help, I believe this.