“I’m thankful for everything, except bad guys.”
Livvy, my 5 year old philosopher, said this last week when we asked her what she’s thankful for. (She is one hilarious kid, let me tell you.) Right now, Livvy watches movies or TV shows that sometimes feature “bad guys.” Usually, in what she watches, the bad guys find redemption and turn into a good guys. I am learning how much I really appreciate this plot point in children’s entertainment. As a Christ follower, I’m supposed to hope for the bad guys to find redemption, right?
I am not really excited for the day when Livvy learns that actual, real life bad guys don’t always find–or want–redemption. This leads me to today’s Advent theme: peace. How many Christmas songs or hymns can you name that reference this peace the Christ baby is supposed to bring?
There’s the classic “Do you see what I see?”
“Said the king to people everywhere / Listen to what I say / Pray for peace people everywhere / The child, the child / sleeping in the night / He will bring us goodness and light”
Don’t forget about John Lennon’s Christmas hymn “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” It never explicitly mentions peace, but it is all about Christmas ending war to bring peace.
Peace is a strong theme we find in Advent. We get this from Messianic passages like Zechariah 9:10 where it describes the Christ as the one who will “proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
So if peace is something we look forward to because of this Advent Baby, and Grown Up Jesus invites us to build the Kingdom of God, aren’t we supposed to participate in promoting this Christmas idea of peace?
In his incredible book Love Does, Bob Goff gets his kids to dream big and write national leaders of countries who aren’t on super nice terms with the U.S. Crazily enough, these world leaders invited his family to come visit with them. Bob Goff’s family held mini-peace summits in foreign countries with world leaders–WITH HIS KIDS AS THE AMBASSADORS.
Did you read that?
What if we sat down with terrorist leaders, meeting them in Geneva (because everyone can bond over chocolate) and have some face-to-face time with them? What if we brought our kids and had their kids meet our kids? Don’t you think that some sort of progress would be made?
On the newest episode of The Walking Dead (no spoilers here), two groups of survivors are faced with possible violent conflict between each other. The threatening group wants to oust the other, by force if necessary. The other group leader pleads with them, and says, “think about the children.” You could see that caused the threatening group to give pause. And as I’m watching the show, my first thought is, ” send the kids out and show the other group their faces! They need to see the kids’ actual faces!” Right after that, I thought that anyone would be crazy to do that with children.
And that would be crazy. But how many people in this world would really want to see the face of a child, who holds so much potential, and look towards facilitating their death?
When the talk of peace comes up, needing to secure it through violent means always seems to trail. Even with the promise of this baby that was supposed to change Israel’s future, a violent conflict erupted because the people in power needed to stay in power.
Maybe that’s what’s so crazy about Advent. It’s this idea that an innocent baby arrives to come and change how the world operates. This Advent Baby dares us to look into innocence and call for more bloodshed.
So is this peace so impossible to achieve? Some might say that that’s naive or impossible to make happen. But so is resurrecting from the dead or a certain miraculous birth we rings bells over. If you are a follower of The Cross and Resurrection, then you have to hope that anything is possible.
Every time I hear Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” it gets me. “Another year over / and what have you done?” That’s a great question to ask. I think Jesus might ask us the same question.
What have you done over the past year to promote and pursue peace?
This Advent Baby was born into our world to look at us in the face and say, “Put down your sword. Love your enemies. Take up the cross and kill your sinful nature, no one else.”
Bring peace to the world. Consider it a Christmas present to the Advent Baby and my kids–and the kids of terrorists, too.