I saw a church marquis this past week announcing their Sunday’s sermon:
“We get to rest in peace. Why can’t we live in peace?”
It’s the season of peace and hope, Christmas lights and children’s faces filled with anticipation. Santa’s on the Square downtown, carolers are singing those favorite holiday songs. I’m in my car (was about two hours ago), stuck in rush hour on I-30. And so I pull out my uke and start singing one of my favorites (to the tune of “Let it Snow”):
“Oh, the traffic outside is frightful,
But this uke is so delightful.
And since I’ve no place to go,
I’ll play my uke but keep my eyes on the road . . .”
Admittedly, playing the ukulele while driving is a bit tricky. But roll down the window in a freeway parking lot, and before you know it, there are at least a few more “carolers” joining in.
Christmas for lots of folks seems to be about trying to get back to that special “feeling” — joy, wonder, happiness, hope . . .
Our scripture text for this coming Sunday is a familiar one this time of year, Isaiah 11:1-11, where our writer speaks of a time where lambs and lions will lay around together, where small children and snakes play together, where people are generous and merciful and just plain “getting along really well” with one another. It’s a vision, to be sure — “peace on earth, good will toward men.” And we sing it or hear it or see it pretty much all season long leading up to Christmas. And, if you’re like me, you’ve been singing it and saying it and seeing it every year, at this time of year, for years and years.
So ask yourself, what IS peace? What does that word mean to you? WHERE is peace?
For a lot of people, I think it means calm, being with people you love and who love you, the absence of stress or worry or fear, being on a mountaintop or deep in the heart of nature somewhere. Could it also be found in the heart of a traffic jam or the rush of a crowd at the shopping mall or the arguments and tension over politics on Facebook? Maybe part of the challenge in this vision of peace is thinking about what would it actually take for a lamb and a lion to lie down in the same field without fear or aggression? What would it take for people to just get along? Too often, I think we get caught up in thinking peace is about things being fixed or the absence of conflict, as if it were an outcome or consequence or fixed ideal — something like that final resting in peace.
But maybe peace isn’t an ideal or place or goal. Maybe it isn’t about the absence of conflict. Maybe getting to peace on earth is really about a very simple, though clearly counterintuitive, path to something else entirely.
This Sunday, in eleven:eleven celebration
“in search of peace”
Rev. Tom McDermott
with special guests
DJ Jason Esquire
Actor Jakie Cabe with Becky Shanlever
(as Bob and Evelyn in an Advent message from the Eggnogg Distibutors of America)
and Brad Thompson with the eleven:eleven band doing Christmas music from
Run D&C, Christine Kane and Holly Near
See you Sunday!