Peace on Earth this New Year
As I complete this article on the first Sunday of Advent, I just read the headline that our nation is about to commit another 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan. Personally, I think this is a bad idea based on what I learned during my study in Southeast Asia, but I am not going to spend this column trying to convince you of my opinion. Rather, I view this as just one more example of how every Advent begins the same--with an apocalyptic tale of destruction.
We hear it every Advent with messages from the Gospels like: "on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world." These are Jesus’ words according to the evangelist Luke. One might almost think Jesus is telling his disciples to be afraid—be very afraid. But if that’s all you hear in Jesus’ message this Advent then you are missing the point.
Advent does begin every year with a message of chaos, a message of trouble at hand. Yet if you pay close attention over the next few Sundays of Advent (for that you’ll have to attend the services) you will hear that the messages get more and more positive. I have said it time after time; Advent is a time of pregnancy. It is not intended to be a mini-Lent. Advent is that time of anticipation and expectation. We are intended to think in terms of, "Yes, things are bad now, but they are going to get better. Our Messiah will come!"
As Christians our faith amounts to nothing if it is not lived in hope. When we hear of wars and rumors of wars, trouble and strife, look up. Your redemption draws nigh. Lift up your eyes to the hills from where your help will come. This is the meaning of our journey through Advent, and when lived in faith it brings all the more meaning to Christmas.
Finally, though unconnected from the above message, let me remind you of the words of Gandhi, "If we all care enough, and we all share enough, then everyone will have enough."
Happy New (Liturgical) Year, and have a blessed Advent as you prepare your heart and home for the coming of the Christ-child.
Peace On Earth This New Year
Written by The Rev'd Daniel C. Gunn
Monday, 07 December 2009