Peace, Salaam, Shalom

This Sunday, we’ll light the Advent Candle of Peace.  We’ll sing and pray as if we believe that peace is possible.  But, do we?  When we hear the nightly news do we think “one day, things will be different?”  Or do we sigh at the inevitability of it all.  I wonder, which is harder: to believe that God became a human baby or to hold on to the hope that peace is possible?

For me, part of the wonder of the Christmas story is the impossibility of it all.  A virgin has a baby.  God voluntarily becomes vulnerable.  Angels appear in a sheep field.  The son of God is birthed in an animal stable.  It’s not supposed to be that way.  Virgins don’t have babies.  Gods don’t choose vulnerability.  And yet…

And yet…God did and God does.  God was born a vulnerable baby into an occupied land and was forced to flee as a refugee.  God knows oppression, violence, and injustice and God offers love in return.  God offers grace and peace, far deeper than that my understanding.

And so, I believe.  I believe the impossible, improbable love of God is stronger than all things.  I believe God chose flesh and blood to teach you and me about the strength of love and vulnerability.  I believe that peace is possible.  And as cheesy as it sounds, I believe it starts with each of us.

Peace is not about some day, over the rainbow.  Peace is a choice you and I make right now and over and over again in large and small ways throughout our days.  We choose peace when we lift our lead foot, or listen one more time, or catch the door before or it slams, or take a deep breath, or say thank you, or write our political representatives, or light a candle, or feed someone who is hungry.  We choose peace when we listen to another perspective before we speak or make room for another person at the table.  We choose peace when we allow ourselves to be curious, compassionate and courageous.

I believe in peace, for I believe that not just all things are possible in God, but even more than I can ask or imagine. Maybe it’s cheesy, but add my voice to the choir, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

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