It seems ironic, lighting the candle of peace—the Second Advent candle—as headlines scream racial prejudice and people flood the streets, our cities and nation on edge. But maybe that is the best reason to light that fragile, fluttering worship light. Peace always must begin somewhere in a world of jangled nerves, whose fierceness doesn’t subside.
Peace is elusive. Every Sunday, after the announcements and before the first hymn, we pass Christ’s peace. And I invite us to do this in a specific way. Not, “how about those Rangers?” Not, “have you started shopping?” Not, “I missed you yesterday at the gym.”
We say, “the peace of Christ be with you,” answering, “and also with you.” It’s a specific peace we pass. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Jesus’ disciples are called to peace. When Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace.” His words remind us that peace is not in-cidental to our life together. No, Christ’s peace forms the very heart of our common life.
Peace is our gift freely given from above, our calling from God to fulfill, the good news visible and preserved for us in the loving lives of those we emulate. Advent is about this peace. Yet ferocity seems to reign. Napoleon once said, “If they want peace, nations should avoid the pinpricks that precede cannon shots.” Peace is the absence of gossip and the presence of restraint. Peace is reserving judgment over other lives and hearing how we fall short. Jesus blessed peacemakers, but showed the cost of living such a life.
Various “micro-aggressions” plague not only nations, but also churches, families and neighborhoods. Domestic violence is a real issue. Endless military forays from all sides are the rule, not the exception. By nature, humankind is more skilled at staging battles and waging war than practicing peace. That is why we seek God in Christ as our peace.
To see the truth of these words and to marry them to our experience is a conscious act of peace. God’s will is expressed in every new moment. God’s peace is thus secretly and newly conveyed the heart and soul of each and every one of us. We need only be aware of ourselves in the moment to know this truth and to allow this Light of Peace we ignite together to tell us about the peace passing all understanding. It originates in God.