Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Time for Peace

December 19, 2015 
Reflection by Phil Bjornberg

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

In Advent we proclaim that Isaiah’s words have been made manifest through the Christ child, the branch growing forth from the tree of Jesse. And those of us who follow this Christ child affirm that yes, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and the fear of the Lord rested upon his shoulders. We affirm that he has judged the poor with righteousness. We know all too well how, through those convicting parables, the words of his mouth have assailed us in all our shadowed places. We say all of this with holiday cheer and merriment, even, because we believe it’s the best thing — he’s the best thing — that has happened to us.

But then we get to the part about the lions laying down with the lambs, child-friendly snakes, and neither animals nor humans hurting or killing. What do we do with this lingering prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled?  Why is the stump of Jesse taking so long to fill the whole world with the knowledge of God?  The little child has come to us — two thousand years ago and counting — and we have not yet made it to God’s holy mountain. The cows are grazing in high density barns waiting to be processed into cheap beef for our hamburgers. The lamb is still getting shorn to make clothes that will last only a season or two. Children don’t come anywhere near a snake’s lair because most of them don’t play anywhere outside much anymore.

And righteousness? Justice? We are so drunk on the process of hurting and destroying one another that we can no longer see past the ends of our military-might-political-fight-I-am-always-right noses. Death tolls rise, wars rage on, hunger and sickness strike day after day.  Have we have lost sight of the mountain altogether?

If the little child has come, and shall lead us, are we simply not following? Did we miss our chance? Did we get lost along the parade route and never realize the party broke up? ‘Tis the season to dream big dreams and hope big hopes; but, the hardest questions remain:

Why is the earth not yet filled with the knowledge of the Lord? 

What will you do to wage peace on your street?

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