A Poem for Christmas Eve
Candlelit church services with wiggly children;
Warmth around a fireplace.
Last minute creating and cooking, shopping and wrapping;
Poignant memories of departed loved ones.
Meals served to thousands without a home;
Grace encounters as Christ comes clothed with gratitude.
The kettle bells ring one more day;
Families brave the weather to visit friends in need.
Divine love comes wrapped in swaddling clothes;
A Virgin Mother nurses her Creator and Redeemer.
Longings for peace arise in hearts;
The Prince of Peace comes near.
A Merry Christmas to all!
Peace among nations is a noble goal worth pursuing. It is also impossible without the other facets of peace being in place. Treaties are mere scraps of paper without transformation of hearts and minds. As we pray for our leaders and for concord among all cultures, here are some pathways to peace essential for human flourishing:
Personal peace with God and oneself. Conflicted, guilty and wounded hearts are underneath so much pathological activity and strife. This peace comes when individuals are reconciled to God and with their own pasts.
Peace among families. In 1967, Neil Diamond wrote and recorded a powerful song, Husbands and Wives, containing these words, “It’s my belief/pride is the chief/cause of the decline /in the numbers of husbands and wives.” It is time for spouses to decide ahead of time that they will remain faithful in body and spirt to their partners and their children.
Peace within and among churches. The local church is Jesus’ Plan A for his mission and the hope of the world…and all too often a place of discord and power struggles. May the faith, hope and love of the Gospel bring humility and mutual respect among all members.
Peace among diverse classes and cultures, educational backgrounds and ethnicities. Global ideals are only as strong as their local applications. When we make friends across classes and cultures and work for the common good, there is a ripple effect that becomes influential across the street and around the world.
And the key to all these facets of peace? A decision on the apart of at least 2 people to think of God’s glory and the good of others before themselves. In other words, letting love and humility, courage and wisdom win out over ambition and ego.
May this Advent find all of us at peace with Christ and fostering peace in our families and neighborhoods. We do not need the State house, the Beltway or the UN to lead the way – it begins in our hearts and homes.
Our deep divisions come from an impoverished anthropology.
We must reaffirm that all persons we encounter are made in God’s image with vocations of worship and work, play and rest, mutual self-donation and personal flourishing.
Our new anthropology must embrace created dignity, sin-infected depravity, gracious new creation in Christ and the restoration of all creation, as we enjoy God’s eternal reign.
Class and culture, gender and race are transformed with this new vision.
Transforming our society begins with love and truth.
Love: I desire and act for the good of others.
Truth: I assume responsibility for my decisions while recognizing larger influences I may not always control.
As we pray and work for justice, Pastor Chris Brooks’ words resound:
”We must confront individual iniquity and institutional injustice.”
”Poverty is not permanent.”
Poverty, racism, sexism, classism: all can be overcome with unselfish actions rooted in love and truth.
A free society is a virtuous society.
A virtuous society is built on timeless truth.
And it all begins and ends with self-donating love.
And that love is Triune.