It’s Advent- my very favorite season. This year, we’re looking for Magic in the Mundane as we celebrate He Who Came, Stayed, and Will Come Again. This week is traditionally the “Peace” week, even when peace seems like the last thing that could characterize the world today.
I don’t think it will ever feel like the right time for peace week.
I check the news during my lunch break at work, but I don’t bother reading more than the headlines anymore. It’s the same old story: the world is broken (and we’re the ones breaking it).
I babysat for a rambunctious group of children last weekend, and if I’m recalling correctly, four out of five of them cried at some point during the one hour I was with them (I am a world-class babysitter.). But, mercifully, as soon as the parents came upstairs, everyone was smiles and stealing handfuls of sugar out of the bag carelessly left on the counter downstairs.
One little girl butt-scooted down the stairs in search of her dad while I picked up the last few toys and searched for a missing pair of shoes. Before I had even made it to the top of the stairs, I heard her wailing.
“I. WANT. MY. DADDY!”
She was climbing back up the stairs, though, instead of down. I scooped her up and asked what had happened, what was wrong.
She burrowed hard into my shoulder. “I. WANT. MY. DADDY!”
“Well, I’m not your daddy, sweetie. He’s downstairs somewhere, let’s go find him.”
As it turned out, her dad was in the bathroom and they were quickly and joyfully reunited. I am a world-class babysitter.
I usually think about peace as a period of time in which there is nothing on my to-do list and I have everything I need. On a broader scale, perhaps peace would be a period in time when there is nothing on anyone’s to-do list and everyone has everything they need.
But Christ didn’t bring that kind of peace, and yet we celebrate a Peace Week, anticipating his coming.
Christ helped people get what they needed and what they wanted, but he didn’t send them on beach vacations and tell them to leave their cell phones at home. He didn’t overthrow the government or solve unemployment or end discrimination or violence.
What can Peace be if the one bearing the name “Prince of Peace” has these credentials?
Maybe peace has less to do with what is happening than with our response to it.
I was decidedly not the person the sweet girl I babysat was looking for- in fact, I was the person who had literally fenced her in upstairs so she could not get to her father who was trying to have small group downstairs.
And yet, when the thing she wanted became impossible for her to find on her own, she came back to me. Because even if she had told me that I was mean several times during that evening, somewhere in the depths of her heart she trusted me to step in and help her, to make what was wrong right again.
I think peace is less about the mess we’re sitting in and more about our faith that something or someone is going to clean it up (and soon).
I don’t always believe that God is willing and able to clean up the mess we’ve made down here.
I don’t always believe that God is willing and able to clean up the mess I’ve made down here.
But that’s why Peace is one of our Advent candles. Because God did come down here to clean up the mess we’ve made, and he’s promised to come back.
Peace is found in believing that.
Photo by Steven Depolo, via flickr.