Advent: Peace

Peace – Let It Begin With Me

“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” – Acts 10:36

The places are familiar enough now to all of us. Columbine … Virginia Tech … Boston … Sandy Hook … Aurora … Fort Hood … Charleston … Colorado Springs … and now San Bernardino.

Pictures of San Bernardino shooting victims are displayed at a makeshift memorial.

Pictures of San Bernardino shooting victims are displayed at a makeshift memorial. Photo from AP.

Peace. It’s a term that means so much more to me this Christmas. I work for San Bernardino County, in the Information Services Department. Last Wednesday, December 2, a horrific mass shooting occurred a few miles from me, to a sister County department. In the end, 14 were dead, and 21 wounded.

This tragedy hit close to home, for so many of us. But unfortunately, we have so many other cities to look to who have gone down this road before us. And like them, we will be stronger for it.

Many in the media are delving in to the possible reasons for the rise in mass shootings and domestic terrorism in the last decade. And many more are calling for more gun control and more mental health screenings to combat this societal ill. I agree. But I also would call for peace. For peace to be our mainstay, what we celebrate in the media, what we teach our children, and what our centers of power strive to attain.

shalomPeace: it means freedom from war, violence, or disturbances, according to the dictionary. But in the Christian worldview it means so much more. It encompasses the idea of shalom. When God created the world, He called it good. Each created thing stood in a proper relationship to God. There was no sin in anything. And creation was at peace with itself for there was no death, no strife, no suffering. We call this state shalom. It means far more than peace, quiet, or safety. Shalom means a state of affairs in which there is universal flourishing, wholeness, harmony, and rest. In essence, shalom is the way things ought to be in this world, as God created it.

But the universality of Creation is matched by the universality of the Fall, meaning that just as God created everything good, everything created good has fallen. Humanity has become alienated from God, from ourselves, from others, and from nature. But there is good news. God has chosen to redeem humanity and the world through Christ and to begin the process of restoring us and this world to the way it was supposed to be.

Thus, the last turning point in the story involves Redemption. And it’s as universal and comprehensive as the Creation and the Fall. The first three chapters of Genesis record the stories of the Creation and Fall of this world. The rest of Genesis and the Bible tell the story of Redemption, which culminates in the life and death of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. In this redemption all relationships, with God, with ourselves, with each other, and with the natural world, are restored to a shalomic state. (Though after Christ’s First Coming our present state of redemption as new and glorified creations is real but partial. The process of becoming fully redeemed and glorified starts in the here and now, though our glorification won’t be finished until at Christ’s Second Coming when we are bodily resurrected.)

Peace on EarthAnd this is the message of Christmas. When Christmas carols speak of peace, this is what they have in mind. Think of the lines we all know. From the song O Little Town of Bethlehem: “And praises sing to God our King, And Peace to men on earth.” From the song Silent Night: “Holy Infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace.” From the song Hark! The Herald Angels Sing: “Peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” All of these songs (and many more) envision God’s peace to us in this world.

It is why many Christians greet each other with the saying, “Peace be with you.” And reply, “And also with you.” Peace… shalom with God, with ourselves, with other people, and with our natural world. It is what I cling to when faced with such tragedy as what happened last week in my city. So this day I boldly proclaim, “Let there be peace on earth… and let it begin with me.”

Let There Be Peace on Earth
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
By Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller
Posted in Advent Tagged with: ,
  • Experiencing Advent

    The focus of Advent (which means "coming") is first and foremost on the first coming of Christ, specifically Jesus' incarnation and birth. And the second focus of Advent is on the fulfillment of the kingdom promises, specifically the second coming of Christ. It is my intention to reclaim and rediscover the Advent Season by writing a blog post twice a week for Advent that is full of Scripture, quotes, music, artwork, and prayers. And I hope you will join me for the journey to Bethlehem. To begin the journey, start here.
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