Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
Peace. It’s our theme for this Advent Sunday and it is defined as “freedom from disturbance; tranquility.”
Depending on your season of life right now - “freedom from disturbance” may be really easy to find (sitting in front of a decorated Christmas tree; walking along the beach at sunrise; enjoying a meal with friends) or it may be the furthest thing from describing your life right now (kids fighting over Christmas cookies; end of year deadlines being pushed at work; family gatherings bringing up all the things you’ve worked so hard at avoiding).
Peace, though, is our goal. Not only today, during this month, but throughout our lives, as Christians, we follow Jesus’ example in working towards peace. The Scripture today describes it as employing righteousness and faithfulness...not judging a book by its cover...and up-ending the natural order of things. Peace is not achieved by avoiding the work. Peace is achieved by addressing it.
While our Scripture today was written centuries before Jesus was born, Walter Brueggemann reminds us "that Jesus was received, celebrated, and eventually crucified precisely for his embodiment and practice of this vision of social possibility" (Isaiah 1-39, Westminster Bible Companion). Jesus, the baby we anticipate this season, grew up to employ righteousness and faithfulness, he welcomed all, and he didn’t accept unjust behavior as the “new normal.” He worked toward peace.
What are you doing to work toward peace? It could be as “small” as carving out time to journal for yourself...or as “big” as working with task forces on equal rights of all people....or a bit of both and everything in between. Both are important, because peace begins within each of us and radiates from there.
The fun part of this Scripture is the imagery of all the “unnatural” pairings in peace. The different animals and children playing safely together. It encourages us to imagine the unimaginable peace. It encourages us to not let the endless stories of violence or hateful speech or orphaned children become the “new natural,” the new norm.
Whether you are feeling the lack of peace inside your own mind or feeling the lack of peace in the outside world, know that Jesus’ message is one of peace. It is something we can certainly pray for and work towards.