Peacemaking during an embodied Advent

It’s the second Sunday of Advent, a day when Christians traditionally focus on the signs of Peace. Christ himself, in our holy scriptures, is given the name Prince of Peace, denoting that Peace is embodied, not some vague or nondescript attribute with no particularity. Whatever Peace is, we feel and experience and live it out in our bodies. As with everything, the body always matters, even and perhaps especially in Advent.

Peace, though, is often misunderstood, I’ve found. In fact, many people of faith seem to translate it to mean that we’re called to be peacekeepers when, in actuality, Jesus is calling us to be peacemakers. Peacekeeping looks at what is and aims to preserve it. Peacemaking, on the other hand, is active. It takes Jesus’ words seriously about the Kingdom of God being a bit of yeast in some dough; it kneads and rolls and stretches and gets its hands dirty as it works to create something new, something beautiful, something good.

Peacekeeping looks at the world and declares it to be “good enough.” Don’t rock the boat. Don’t get angry. Don’t be divisive. Peacemaking, on the other hand, looks at the world and remembers that Christ taught us to work for the fullness of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Peacemaking sees the job is not yet finished. Peacemaking works for change.

Peacemaking means we use our bodies to live out the stories. It is marching with our own feet in the protest line, serving meals with our very hands at the soup kitchen and food banks. It is shielding the bodies of our neighbors with our own. It’s putting the pen between our fingers and writing letters to our representatives to call for justice and equitable policy. It’s using our mouth to declare that the welcome of God is big enough for all; it invites everyone to the table, tells them of the Great Feast.

This week may we remember we are called to be peacemakers, those who enter the unjust and unfair parts of the world, set up camp, and get to work. May we not settle for what is, for the “good enough for some” — may we not tire until the good enough is given to all. May we not be afraid of what others might think or others might say, because we don’t work for the approval of men, anyway; may the flourishing of God’s people matter more to us than our reputations.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Jeremiah 6:14, NIV

This week may we roll up our sleeves and make peace. For the Light is coming, friends; let us work to prepare him room.

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