Waging Peace During Advent
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Happy chilly December day to you! We hope you and your families are well on this bright morning.
It is the second week of Advent, and our friend Fleming Rutledge is helping to orient us to the grace and truth of this season between Jesus’ coming and Jesus’ coming back.
In her book, Rutledge remarks how out of place it can seem that on the second Sunday of Advent we meet John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness for people to “Repent!” It’s hardly a traditional Christmas-y story, but there is something powerful here for the people of Israel to notice, if they are paying attention.
Over 450 years before John the Baptist, Malachi, who is Israel’s final post-exile prophet, has promised God’s people that God will send a new Elijah to call the people to repentance before “the great and terrifying day of the Lord arrives.”
We can see now that John the Baptist is this Elijah, this new prophet announcing God’s imminent coming. But only those who were paying attention could see it then.
For context, remember that Israel was in a mess when Malachi prophesied--they were lax in their worship, mad at God, worn out on hoping for restoration, and generally suspicious of all that God had promised.
This same Israel was in a mess 450 years later when John the Baptist showed up--they were trading favors with the Romans, turning worship into profit, and divided bitterly within themselves, even as they failed to do justice among their own.
Are we in a mess, too, in our in-between time world? Do we find ourselves suspicious of God and subject to worn-out patience muscles? Do the troubles in our inner lives, our families, or our world cause us to want to do the things people have always done when they give up...to wantonly indulge appetites, to become contemptuous or suspicious, to blame God, or to seek peace in false promises?
Probably. Because that is the way that we inherently handle hard things. Even though we know these patterns are the way of chaos, they tempt us nonetheless. As Advent women, we must be active in holding space for the peace of God’s promises to remain with us.
The way through the dark night of human reality is the way of defiant, watchful peace-making.
To wage peace in Advent is to stand with the watchman in the middle of the hardest night (Mark 13:35 - 37), believing that the sun will come up.
To wage peace in Advent is to remember to light a candle to nurture our hope-against-hope expectation that God’s arrival is near.
To wage peace in Advent is to add our thirst for light to our very actions. To “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12) by remembering that the smallest actions can be segments of light, both covering us and bearing witness to the coming King.
To wage peace in Advent is to be women who are paying attention, anticipating God’s arrival. We are women holding carefully the humbling reality that Advent is not our journey to God, but it is rather God’s journey to us. Ours is to wage peace in chaos, and to wait for God.
Ours is to believe.
Peace be upon you,
The Kaleid Team
(Some of the insight for this blog comes from pages 299 - 304 of Rutledge’s book of sermons on Advent.)