Through the season of Advent, we rehearse the mysterious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We relive the manifestation of the Maker of all there is or, was, or ever will be in the delicate flesh and bone of a child—infinity swaddled in infancy and laid in a manger. In the retelling, we look forward to his next coming, a time when his rule and reign will be complete, a time when all sad things will be made untrue.
This past Sunday, we lit the candle of peace as a reminder that God’s peace has penetrated the darkness that enveloped his creation. The mantra of ancient Rome was Pax Romana, the “Peace of Rome.” Through imperial rule, Caesar used violence as the means by which he enforced his peace on the world. God’s peace, though greater, was no less violent.
In the classic Christmas hymn, What Child Is This, we sing,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary”
While these words do not inspire warm fuzzy holiday feelings, they do succinctly sum up the reason for the season. The silent night ultimately gave way to screams of pain. The babe laid in a manger grew into a man who was nailed to a cross “for me, for you.”
As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) God’s peace, like Caesar’s, came violently, yet this violence was perpetrated against his Son rather than that which he made. We have peace because Jesus did not.
Peace to you this Christmas season,