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if only we could see peace

“If you could only see this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

~ Jesus’ announcement before His final entry into Jerusalem
New Testament Gospel of Luke
19.42 (paraphrased)

12/10 is the second Sunday of Advent. Peace is the traditional theme. Ancient prophets foretold that a Prince of Peace would come to Jerusalem, even describing his arrival:

“Rejoice with shouts, Jerusalem! Watch for your king. He will arrive righteous and victorious; yet lowly, riding a donkey—on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

~ Zechariah 9 (paraphrased)

Despite such specific prophecies, the vast majority failed to recognize the Prince of Peace. The popular consensus was that their Savior would be a victorious super-hero. But instead of arriving as an amazing celebrity, the Prince of Peace came as a suffering servant. His failure to conform to the popular Messianic expectation made him unrecognizable to most people.

Today as well, the majority cannot see what will bring us peace. It’s hidden from our eyes.

The first step to peace is accurately defining it. Authentic peace is much more than the absence of conflict. The Dali Lama describes peace is an inner tranquility which doesn’t depend upon the uncertainties of daily life for its existence. The Jewish word for peace, Shalom, means completeness, soundness, well-being. The idea is that one is fulfilled and satisfied just being; no longer is there a need for anything more. Early Christians understood peace to be deep harmony with God and others.

The second step to peace is acknowledging that we are poor peacemakers. We sincerely believe that peace will expand as others adopt our opinions. Sacrifices are for others. But peace can only come when we humbly accept our true place in the world. As long as I’m in charge I want servants or at least followers. It is only when I become a servant that I become a peacemaker.

The third step to peace is to recognize what brings peace. Peace can’t come from things. Nor does it come from human effort. Peace is a divine gift freely given to people who acknowledge their deep need for God. To receive peace we must stop clinging to the things that comfort us, or to things we believe protect us, or even to those things upon which we build our identity.

The fourth step to peace is loosing our fear. “Be not afraid,” was how the angel greeted the shepherds. The angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the same words. Humans, damaged and broken as we are, fear the spiritual. Foolishly we seek security and peace in our material reality, oblivious to Jesus’ words, “The spirit gives life. The flesh counts for nothing.” ~

Dan Nygaard