Sunday, December 24, 2017

Spirituality as Resistance: Peace

It has always been one of the core beliefs of my faith that resistance to the world’s ways is at the heart of the Judeo-Christian ethic. It may also be at the heart of other faiths, but this is the one I know best and am steeped in. Between now and Epiphany Sunday on January 7 I will take one of the traditional themes of the season and relate it to our present day resistance to some difficult and troubling things happening around us. I don't believe we are to withdraw from the world, but rather engage with the world (in, not of the world) with the Word in mind.

4th Sunday of Advent 
December 24, 2017
Peace as Resistance

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips,
be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
― Francis of Assisi

We have come from hope to love and joy. As we end our Advent journey this morning these three move us to the heart of the matter, I believe, no matter how we look at it. We come to peace.

  • Peace, not as the absence of conflict but the presence of serenity.
  • Peace, not as a compromise ending discord, but a way of life that impacts others.
  • Peace, not the result of violence, but as a foundation of unity.
  • Peace, not the privilege of dominance over others, but as the seed of embracing God’s love for ourselves and others.

  • In a world of conflict, peace is an act of revolution.
  • In a world of war and violence, peace is resistance to the ways of the world.
  • In a world where many seek dominance, peace is to be willing to be powerless for the sake of others.

  • It was but a few decades ago when many marched and pushed for peace we were called traitors.
    • That was peace as resistance.
  • Gandhi preached nonviolence as the way to bring about a major societal change.
    • That was peace as resistance.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. followed Gandhi’s lead to break through a century of post-slave era discrimination.
    • That was peace as resistance.

As Francis reminds us to have peace on our lips without living it from the heart is to shortchange the meaning of peace. It also keeps us from finding the way into deeper hope. We deprive our world of what we have to share and may even cut off the path to peace.

There is no path to peace,
but peace itself is the path.
― Richard Rohr

One cannot find the way to peace. The peace leads us on the path. Peace is not something that we can build, but something we discover as we walk a path that in itself is peaceful. It is one of the great paradoxes of life that the harder we work for peace, the more we depend on power and control to find it in ourselves, the less peace we will have. That, too, is an act of resistance since it seems so counterproductive to the ways we are told to live. There has to be a willingness to surrender to peace before we can find it.

Being a person of peace does not mean that one becomes a doormat or a victim who has no power. Power comes in living as a person of peace. Peace is not passivity. Sharing a life of peace is active and empowering. When one lives in peace, it can be seen that hope, love, and joy are present. Peace is standing in place when chaos erupts. Peace is knowing the way, the truth, and the life. Peace has discovered an inner source of wonder and direction that the world cannot overcome.

Tonight we begin the season of Christmas. It is a season when peace is proclaimed by angels in the fields of Bethlehem and in the cries of a newborn. It is a season when peace is proclaimed and for a brief period we may begin to believe, again, that peace is possible.

More than that, it is the final Advent call to move forward with the hope we have discovered, the love that loves us unconditionally, the joy that overcomes doubt.

Tonight will be the night when we are reminded that the ways of the world are turned upside down.

We are ready. Advent comes to a close.

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.

No comments: