During this past Christmas season, I found myself meditating on the concept of “peace on earth”. Peace between nations, peace between people, peace from war, and peace within. As cards of the season’s greetings came in the mail, as church services were attended, and as all the festive lights shown around me, I found myself thinking about how much we have centered the message of the holiday season around this idea of “peace on earth”.
However, each time I read and thought upon the story of Jesus’ birth as told in Scripture, I wondered if our emphasis was somewhat flawed. Now, don’t get me wrong, peace is an important aspect of Christ’s message and lifestyle, as well as the trajectory of Scripture in general. But, how we approach the journey towards peace is often far from the approach we find in the Christmas narrative.
We’ve made the journey towards peace into one that begins first with and within ourselves, followed by security around us (to protect our happiness), and then willful silence and ignorance of situations that might change our personal peace.
However, Jesus’ birth story (as well as the rest of the Gospels) is one where disruption is at the center, and indeed the birthplace of everlasting peace, both within us and for our world. Where God comes down, in crazy, life-shaking, society-altering ways. Where a virgin gives birth before marriage; where a small town becomes the epicenter of angels; where those very angels share the most important news humanity has ever heard with only the most lowly (shepherds); and where foreigners (magi) step-in and realize eternal truths others have failed to notice.
So, perhaps our approach towards peace means trailblazing new paths. Where we must disrupt the norm, lay aside our complacent tendencies, tear down the barriers that protect us, open our hearts, passionately push for reform, and actively protest for what is right and just.