In this second week of Advent, we turn our hearts and minds toward peace alongside a gospel passage that isn't quite peaceful —at least not peace as we might expect it. Instead, John the Baptist's wild ways and wild words unsettle us.
Maybe we need to be unsettled. Maybe the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love feel a little too soft, a little too light for this penitential season that was originally more like Lent. Making room for Christ in our lives, our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, our daily work often feels more like a battle, leaving us weary from all the wrestling-made-blind in the enveloping darkness.
Maybe we need to reevaluate our expectations of peace, and our pursuit of it. There's an important distinction between peacekeeping and peacemaking, after all. We need both, so long as true peace is the peace being made and kept.
Peacekeeping is open, receptive, and willing; it fosters security. Peacekeepers listen, notice, pay close attention and draw others in. Peacekeepers tend to the comfort of others, embracing both sides of an argument with measured patience and gracious equanimity. But peacekeepers can make themselves small and keep their own voices quiet to avoid conflict, settling for a false peace because they're unsure of reaching the better thing that exists beyond hurt feelings and relational fallout.
Peacemaking is disruptive, at first. It is active, intentional, and clear-sighted. Peacemakers bring the full measure of their unique selves to the pursuit of justice for the oppressed, inclusion for the marginalized, redemption for the lost causes, and healing for the brokenhearted. They engage in messy, back-breaking, wonderful, glorious, rabble-rousing work—and they don't care whether anyone is comfortable (including themsel
Isn't it a blessing that we can honor our tendencies and inclinations, even as we outpace them? While Brooke is more naturally inclined to peacekeeping and peacemaking comes more easily for Jenn, we are each growing into the gifts and graces of the other posture (and grateful to be able to travel together). One of the ways we are tending to peace alongside each other right now is by registering for this workshop (Brooke as an adoptee and Jenn as an adoptive parent).
How are you making room for true peace in your own life?
This Advent season, we remember that peace is so much more than a silent night. It's blinding light pouring down from the heavens while mighty voices raise shouts of praise, and honor, and gloria, and good news, and do not fear—and also, yes, peace. Peace is John the Baptist, wild-eyed and wise, proclaiming repentance and rough places made plain; ways in the wilderness and the kingdom at hand. Peace is Mary, young and brave and receptive, saying yes to God then prophesying the exaltation of the lowly and the scattering of the proud; the mighty cast down and the hungry filled.
May we join in the chorus with open hearts and able hands. May we both proclaim and embody, receive and usher in, the kingdom-of-God-come-near.
Pursuing true peace alongside you,
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.