Struggling Towards Peace: Advent Meditation, 12/7/2012

December 7, 2012
Advent Reflections

Psalm 27:1

By: Christopher Esposito-Bernard

During the season of Advent, we anticipate peace. Anticipate because we know peace is still just out of reach. That’s the tension of the Christian life. We are in between God’s kingdom and our own. We look around and we don’t see God’s will being done. God’s kingdom hasn’t come. When we look beyond our status updates and Twitter pics, we see starvation and despair, basic needs being overlooked, and isolation. We see too many reasons to be afraid and too many things to fear. Peace can’t possibly be here on earth.

And yet, even before David can imagine what the Messiah might be, he’s able to utter these words before us today, from Psalm 27:1:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

I don’t know why he’s able to say what he does. I don’t know what sparks his confidence or trust. But I know sometimes I struggle to feel that way too.

Sometimes it is hard to confess “I’m not afraid” or “I have nothing to fear” because sometimes I don’t see the light. Sometimes I can’t taste salvation. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost sight of the thing that’s supposed to be my stronghold. I don’t know what David looked to, but when my uncertainty takes hold of my imagination, I know I need to look to the manger.

I need to look to the manger because Jesus too was helpless and poor and unable to do it on his own. Jesus cried out to his mother in the hope that she would feed him and change him and rock him back to sleep. In her arms, he would have felt safe and secure. Jesus would have felt peace.

It would be years before Jesus would be mocked or ridiculed, beaten or hung on a cross, but maybe it’s the kind of peace Jesus would have experienced as child that he leaves with us. Maybe it’s the peace that comes with bearing our humanity, the knowledge that comes with having been there, having done that. Maybe it’s the peace that comes with the wisdom that God’s kingdom really will come, God’s will really will be done. Maybe it’s the peace that comes in knowing that God’s children have a part to play in restoring creation to what God intended from the beginning.

There are some moments when my “maybe”s feel more certain than others. But as long as we are struggling toward peace, I know I need more of it. And so I pray, “Peace be with you.”

A Collect for Peace

Most holy God, the source of all good desires, all right judgements, all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of your will, and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 123).