Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Advent Reading For Peace

Peace on Earth
by Julie Clawson

So the other day I heard a talk about Christmas traditions and putting Jesus back into Christmas. One of the points made was to make sure that your holiday decorations convey to your neighbors that you are a Christian. I was pretty sure the speaker didn't mean using LED lights so that your neighbors know that you care for God's creation by not wasting energy. I just smiled at the idea with a "to each her own" response, but as I looked at my house while thinking about this week's advent theme, I had to wonder if anyone would assume I was a Christian because of my decor.

The decor is simple - some golden stars, a baskets of poinsettias, and a sign that says "Peace on Earth". But, I wondered, would the term "Peace on Earth" straight out of the biblical Christmas account be associated with Christianity these days? Are we known as peacemakers - doing whatever we can to bring about peace on earth? My gut reaction to that question is no. In fact many of the Christians I know mock those that stand for peace and instead say that war, judgment, and violence are the more biblical paths. Theirs is the voice that is often heard, so much that I can put a bible verse on my house and it not be seen as a Christian thing. That's weird to me.

One of my favorite Christmas carols is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas
Day." It contains the lines -

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

But far from it being the belfries of Christendom spreading the biblical message of peace, they are often instead the ones mocking the song and promoting hate. How can there ever be peace when those that claim to worship the Prince of Peace shun his very message?

I pray that we can reclaim "Peace on Earth" not just as a phrase, but as our calling. To have the world see that seeking peace on earth is part of what it means to be a Christian. For as the carol continues -

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

World Peace Prayer Society

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