A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau takes an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. Every day when she looks out, she sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously. So, the journalist goes down and introduces herself to the old man.
She asks, “You come every day to the wall. How long have you done that and what are you praying for?”
The old man replies, “I have come here to pray every day for 25 years. In the morning I pray for world peace and then for the brotherhood of man. I go home have a cup of tea and I come back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.”
The journalist is amazed. “How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for these things?” she asks.
The old man looks at her sadly. “Like I’m talking to a wall.”
We all know the feeling.
We read of the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah.
In October of every year, the Nobel committee in Oslo announces the recipient of the annual “Nobel Peace Prize.”
And yet, the world has rarely, if ever known a period of true peace, except perhaps for the Pax Romana, and that was the peace of a cemetery, i.e. the peace enforced by a global occupying power.
So when we come to the second Sunday of the Advent season we talk about peace wistfully, with longing and desire. And when we talk about the Advent peace, usually we raise the problem of peace or the lack of peace in the world today—as though political peace is what the ChristChild of the manger is all about.
During Holy Week, don’t we preachers comment on the fact that Jesus comes into Jerusalem welcomed by an excited throng who think that they've found in Jesus a political savior? Do we not discuss the misplaced expectations the disciples often had of Jesus, i.e. that they thought he was going to establish a political kingdom and do it soon? Do not we preachers explain that the disciples had this all wrong, that Jesus came to establish a kingdom “within” us, and that any political changes were for a future age that would dawn at some unknown time?
So then, why do we talk about political peace on the Second Sunday of Advent, when it was peace of a different kind that Jesus hoped to bring to us? This is important because our congregations are FULL or restless and peace-searching people who wonder what it’s all about and in some cases feel as though their backs are against the wall. How can the Prince of Peace bring personal peace to us as we prepare for Advent?
Working for peace and justice is the work of the Christian. No argument there. I’m just saying: Let’s not forget the peace of the other kind. Jesus talks about it. “My peace I leave with you, not as the world gives, give I unto you.” Paul says, “Therefore being set right with God, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) He also writes to the Philippians saying, “And may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord” (4:7) (There’s an interesting irony in the word “guard,” a military term referring to a garrison or fortress, and the concept of peace).
"The peace making meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.”