Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peace on Earth

Entitling a Christmas homily “Peace on Earth” in 2007 demonstrates either outrageous foolishness or audacious hope, for no matter where on earth you look these days peace is in short supply.
Of course, Gabriel’s announcement to Mary must have seemed outrageous, and the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds must have sounded foolish.
Just as Isaiah’s promise to the exiles that God was about to do a new thing, to create a new heaven and new earth.
Just as Moses’ claim that he was called to set his people free.
Just as Gandhi’s insistence that his people would be free.
Just as King’s dream of freedom and equality.
Just as Mother Theresa’s insistence, through all of her deep personal doubts, that the least of these has dignity and worth and deserves compassion and love.
Just as the insistence, today, that God desires shalom – peace on earth – sounds foolish and naïve in the face of the reality of strife and war.
I cannot help but recall the near-mythical Christmas Eve truce of 1914, when German and British troops called a halt to the nonsense of war for the Stille Nacht – the Silent Night of peace.
Is it too naïve to wonder – on this night – if one night of peace might stretch into a day, and if a single day might not extend to two, and if two … then three, and then another and another and another, and then still more until war is no more and nation shall not lift up sword against nation and neither shall they study war no more, and the angels’ proclamation from that first Christmas Eve becomes a description of our common life: peace on earth and goodwill to all of God’s children.
Sure, I recognize that many will say that this is naïve and unrealistic, and, of course, they would be right.
It is naïve and unrealistic – but so is the conviction that with each child is born anew the hope of the world.
Let down the fences and defenses that the culture builds around hope, and gather close round the manger. Listen for the songs of the angels. Peace on earth is their promise and our calling. It is before us … always before us –
… if we would but open our minds to conceive it, open our hands to receive it, open our hearts to believe it.
Peace on earth; good will to all.
This is our Christmas prayer.
Hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas. No more from here till next year. Peace.

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