I received this text from a friend:
There is something eerie, and there’s a sign, that I am finally learning LaQuan MacDonald’s name at the same moment that the choir is rehearsing “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.”
All we really want is a little peace.
As I read our texts for this Sunday, the Second Sunday in Advent, as we light the candle of peace, I’m struck that every passage talks of righteousness. Remember, the Hebrew word translated “righteousness” (tsaddiq) translates better as “justice.”
Note in our first text, Baruch 5:1-9:
Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For God will give you evermore the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”
But how could the people of Israel know? They were in the middle of the Babylonian captivity, losing their culture, their connectedness, and their consecration. How could they look to the future for peace? Surely the prophet tells them to hold on to their righteousness because the prophet knows that without justice, there is no peace.
The Malachi text tells us of a people who have given up their righteousness:
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
Only in righteousness would they gain peace.
We see, in Luke 1:68-79 that peace is inexorably tied up in righteousness. It’s clear in verses 72-75 that the covenant God has made is this: God protects and we serve God in holiness and righteousness. Then in verses 78 and 79, we see God is breaking into the world to guide us to peace.
And finally, perhaps, in Philippians 1:11, the “harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” is peace.
I really want peace. I want wars in the Middle East to cease. I want all acts of terror to cease. I want senseless shootings to cease. I want division based on race, religion, economics, gender, and preference to cease. I want peace. Here, there and everywhere. But to get there, we must act with righteousness.
Where will your Sunday sermon take you? What are the challenges of justice in your neighborhood, your state, your city and your nation? Can small acts of justice roll into big acts of peace? Is there a way to act more justly in Christmas preparation? Can there be small changes that make big differences?
Light your candle, act with justice.
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