Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Peace In Mylittleworldistan

In the famous shepherd scene in Luke 2, after a messenger angel gives the shepherds the GPS coordinates for the manger, a huge choir of singer angels crowd into the sky and sing: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth PEACE, good will towards men (and women)!”

So, of course, we have these angels to thank for the fact that there has been peace on earth since that day. Oh wait! There have been some exceptions… such as the fact that there hasn’t been a single day in human history during which there was peace on earth. Someone is always doing violence to someone else in at least a jillion places, i.e. homes, countries, businesses, villages, marketplaces, etc, etc. But other than that…..

This insult to the wisdom of the choir of angels is so huge that we stand helpless to help. Not much we can do if a bunch of greedy idiots in somewhereelseistan, attack the people of zimplyfishingambawie, especially since they have been at each other’s throats since the ark beached itself on the top of some mountain in Turkey.

Even more embarrassing, though, is the fact that so much non-peace stuff happens in the name of religion. Ouch!

A friend sent me a podcast from the Oprah’s Spirit Newscast that sheds some light on this topic. Oprah was interviewing Rev. Dr. J. Edwin Bacon Jr. (we can just call him Ed) who is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. They were discussing religious persecution. Ed characterized religious persecutors as having this point of view: “My faith, that’s something I would die for… my dogma (theology), that’s something I would kill for.” Bingo! Ed has said a mouthful there. There won’t be peace on earth as long as people of faith (all faiths) hold that kind of view.

My heart longs to give the nice choir of angels an encore. I mourn the violence done in God’s name. To make it even more personal, I mourn the violence done by Christians even in my community of Newberg. I especially am heartbroken over the times I have done violence to the spirit of others in the process of a myopic defense of my dogma.

This has to stop. The angel choir’s song of hope was a call to those who would follow this baby God at all costs, even the cost of their lives. This hope was a call to Christ-followers to let Christ be the judge of other’s beliefs and behavior. Christ can defend the Truth, can’t he? He said that His Kingdom was not of this world so he wouldn’t fight to defend it. Wouldn’t that include religious systems?

“Today, in the city of David, a Savior is born!” Oh, how badly I need a savior to save me from my own arrogance, my own selfishness, from my own narrowness, from my inability to see “that of God” in all my brothers and sisters. A savior born to show and teach me how to love unconditionally, now that’s a savior I desperately need.

If I read Romans 12: 1-2 even remotely correctly, I can have hope that this Savior can indeed transform my mind and heart so that I know God’s perfect will. I have a feeling that as my mind/heart is transformed I will increasingly mourn the ways I am directly or indirectly benefiting from violence to others – economic, racial, sexist, social, and religious violence - perpetrated in the name of the Prince of Peace.

We may not be able to bring peace to everywhereelsesylvania, but we can live at peace among ourselves, in our own community, among the mix of races, economic situations, religions, and political points of view that surround us. That’s my hope, at least – my guess is that it is your hope too. Our longing for peace on earth, as declared by the angelic choir, finds its hope in our own willingness to follow Christ’s example and refuse to do violence in the name of God’s kingdom.

Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, Peace, good will to women (and men)!

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