The Second Week of Advent - a Season for Peace

“Let Us Beat Our Swords Into Plowshares,” by Russian sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich (1959). The statue looks longingly to a day when human strength will forever be put to peaceful and life-giving ends. Yet, as a gift from a violent nation (the Soviet Union) to a weak and ineffectual world congress (the United Nations), the statue also bears witness to the evil in us that makes peace impossible.

“Let Us Beat Our Swords Into Plowshares,” by Russian sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich (1959). The statue looks longingly to a day when human strength will forever be put to peaceful and life-giving ends. Yet, as a gift from a violent nation (the Soviet Union) to a weak and ineffectual world congress (the United Nations), the statue also bears witness to the evil in us that makes peace impossible.

We live in a world torn apart by war.  Military conflicts like the seventeen-year war in Afghanistan grab our attention the most, but they hardly constitute the fullness of war on the planet.

  • Smaller-scale wars in our cities pit rival gangs against one another and the police.

  • Personal wars smolder and flare up between partners and spouses who commit physical, sexual, and verbal assaults.

  • Economic wars separate companies, communities, and individuals into winners and losers, with the losers facing bleak prospects that may endure for generations.

  • Environmental wars involve poor human stewardship of the earth, and can poison land and water and devastate plant, animal, and human populations.

  • Culture wars divide neighbors who, ironically, are pushing honestly held but vastly different visions of virtue.

  • Closest to home are the spiritual wars – our competing inner voices of pride, hope, guilt, longing, shame, and love that spur us to grow yet condemn us as failures.

War is everywhere.  But in the Bible, God’s peace runs every bit as deep and wide as war.  God’s peace not only makes military conflicts cease, but also the hidden and pervasive wars between husbands and wives, parents and children, companies and workers, the rich and the poor, majority and minority races, and even humans and the environment.  God can reconcile these combatants because through Jesus, the Prince of Peace, he has bridged the greatest gap of all – the one between sinners and himself.

We long to be our own gods, and this desire puts us at war with the living God.  Unable to defeat him and unwilling to sue for peace, we are by nature “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12), prisoners of war bound by chains of sin, guilt, shame, fruitless living, and death.  But when Jesus appeared in human flesh, he stepped into the breach and made a full, perfect, and lasting peace through his death on the cross.  We enter that peace by trusting him; we embrace that peace by following him; we will live in that peace when we see him.

The second week of Advent focuses on peace, reminding us both that the war continues and that the Prince of Peace has defeated the powers of hostility.  Advent calls you to see and be moved by the carnage all around you, to believe and rejoice in the peace that is coming, and to follow Jesus into the breach here and now, making peace wherever you can by laying down your life for your neighbors.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)