We light this candle as a symbol of peace: O come, O come, Emmanuel.
Can we truly begin to imagine what peace on earth looks like? Can we imagine what peace feels like within ourselves? In both our outer and inner worlds, peace is elusive.
The other day I received an email from my daughter’s school reminding parents not to allow their children to bring in toy guns or figurines with weapons. It’s a simple rule, although perhaps not one that all parents would agree with, but the rationale is clear: we practice what we learn, we learn what we practice. If we practice peace within ourselves – day in and day out- we will learn to live peacefully. If we practice peace in our lives – culturally and institutionally – we will learn to choose peace in our interactions with each other.
This practice of peace may seem too simple, too naive, too lofty, too impractical, but it’s not impossible. In fact, we promise to seek this very peace in our baptismal covenant when we declare that with God’s help we will strive for justice and peace.
This peace is at the very heart of the spiritual life. This peace is pursued with purpose in walking the way of Christ. This peace is found in following Jesus to and through the cross. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in the midst of them.” It is the kind of peace that bangs on our door, and can pass through our walls, when we’ve locked ourselves off from the world in fear of death. It is the kind of peace that when spoken and made manifest has the power to still a storm. It is the pkind of peace that surpasses all human understanding, and yet can be exchanged with a hug or handshake to the people around us.
So what are you waiting for? We are called to reach out in peace to each other and to cry out to our God in eagerness and longing: O come, O come, Emmanuel.