I will not wait for peace
Published December 19, 2019
By Tom Campbell
In the Christian faith followers are observing the season of Advent, a time of waiting for the birth of The Messiah. On each of the four Sundays before Christmas Advent candles are lit to focus on specific words of hope, peace, joy and love.
At Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill the second week’s candle represented peace and the liturgy, written by Sarah Are of Sanctified Art, was especially meaningful. One after another reader said he or she was willing to wait for such things as the sky to clear, for dinner to be ready, a child to learn to walk, leaves to change color or even for the plot to thicken. The liturgy concludes by saying we will wait for a lot of things, but we will not wait for peace.
Pastor Ben Williams reminded the congregation that we live in times of great unrest, controversy and turmoil. He cited a recent report from the FBI saying that even though hate crimes declined in 2018, violence against people rose to a 16-year high. We are a people quick to anger and violence. It is commonplace to see division, grudges, revenge and retaliation. With a prophetic voice, Williams proclaimed we cannot continue this on path. Peace can’t wait.
But is it possible to imagine that this current culture can be changed so dramatically? How can we learn to live peaceably with all of God’s creation?
Williams reminded us to look no further than the Old Testament scripture of Isaiah, that foretells of a time when the lion will lay down with the lamb, a universal symbol of peace and harmony. He offered a prescription, one easy to understand but extremely difficult to accomplish. It begins by passing the peace with whomever we meet each day. Understanding that words have great power, let us speak peace to others, assume the best in those who do not look like or believe like us, and always look for common ground instead of things that divide us. All of us can take steps to practice peace until it actually happens.
Looking out into his congregation Pastor Ben noted there would doubtless be skeptics, some who thought these practices far-fetched and impossible. He reminded those gathered that at one time human flight, communicating through airways, walking on the moon and heart transplants were thought impossible. And with a big grin, he remembered that many had believed it impossible for his beloved Chicago Cubs to win a World Series. But these things came to pass.
So as we await Christmas, the birth of the Christ-child, let us remember the words to the song, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me… With every step I take let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment with peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
Let us not wait for peace.