LISTEN TO: Murdo McRae, Adam Lopez and Marc Tewksbury; cover of John Lennon's "
"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"
Back in the third century Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage wrote to his friend Donatus: "It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered, in the midst of it, a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy, which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians, and I am one of them.”
So what is the “great secret” of the “quiet and holy” people? It is found in the message of the advent candle we light this week: peace. Jesus, our Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) models for us what peace means. The root meaning of the Hebrew word peace means “to be whole.” It is both an internal, personal state of being (i.e., calmness, freedom from anxiety, relaxed, blessed) and a social condition (absence of war and strife, people comfortable and at ease with each other). Peace is rooted and grounded in Jesus, in his actions, his teachings, the compassionate way he ministered to people. Everything Jesus did was to lead us to the wholeness, the abundance of life.” I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10).” The promise of abundant life is not abundance of material things. It is abundance of love and peace. Even in our imperfections, through Christ God’s peace radiates through us and touches the restless hearts of those around us. This happens without even speaking a word!
So as we follow Jesus on our Advent journey, we remember that Jesus knew a principle of peace that we often forget in our self-centeredness and focus to get ahead: It is this:
"People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used."
Remember the angel’s song on the night Jesus was born: it is God's purpose is for there to be peace on earth (Luke 2:13, 14). It begins with love. Love brings peace.
Yes, our age, like every age before, has its bad aspects. How then shall the world know wholeness? Abundance of spirit? Security? Freedom from anxiety? Each one of us, in a “quiet and holy way” or in an exuberant, outspoken manner, must, this Advent season learn to love as Jesus, and let peace flow from our love to the hearts of those around us.
The grace and peace of Christ Jesus be with you!