Wednesday of the second week of Advent
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Prince of Peace.
It’s hard for democratic societies to appreciate the emotional significance of the birth of a crown prince. But every change of administration brings with it the hope that things might be better. The rhetoric tends to soar. The promises are always bigger than can truly be delivered. But we want to believe.
Human princes fail us. No matter how great they have been, we find ourselves wanting more. You can feel the same thing in an arena as small as parish ministry. This pastor is a wonderful person, but we wish he could preach better. This pastor preaches well, but we wish he had a neat office. This pastor has a clean desk, but he controls things too tightly. When a new pastor comes, we imagine she will be everything the old one was, plus more. New beginnings carry with them great anticipations.
The prophetic word sounds like the soaring rhetoric of a royal birth. But the Christian community sees it point not to any of Judah’s rulers, but to the child of Bethlehem, to the one who came with words of grace and a summons to follow, the one who came with hands that healed and embraced, the one who came with outstretched arms that suffered and rose.
What we tasted in him was true. And the empty tomb speaks the promise that the full banquet will come. He will bring the peace that reconciles us with one another and with heaven. He will bring the peace of open and generous hearts. He will bring the peace that leads us to hammer our swords into plowshares and the lion to live peaceably with the lamb.
Until then, we trust the promise. We breathe his spirit. And we practice.
Eternal God, Breath of Life,
Font of Hope, and our Eternal Joy;
Open the doors of our hearts, and the gates of your mercy
to come into our world and our lives,
and grant us the peace of your kingdom.
— The prayer for Week 2: A doorway to peace