What is there to say about peace?
A reflection on Advent in war time.
I have been trying to write my advent posts on Sunday or Monday. It is Friday and we have a full weekend of holiday festivities in front of us. It is now or never and I still don’t know what to say about peace. Or rather I find the voice in my head telling me, who are you? How dare you write about peace? You in your cozy home with your cute snowflakes you cut out of hymnals, with your running water and your children safe at school. Who are you to talk about the hope of peace.
This is the loud voice in my head. The shouty one. The accusing one. Didn’t I learn with my fancy seminary degree that the voice of evil was first called the accuser? Didn’t I already know that somehow, that the voice against things like hope and peace is wrong. How dare you… Who are you to…. What gives you the right….. Those are not the words of the Prince of Peace. Sometimes in this world of horrible things it is hard to believe I am allowed to want, fight for, or enjoy any of the good ones.
This is , I know for sure, not the voice of God. Underneath that voice is the still small one, the one that says, “Abby, you are right that you are late to this work. Please do what you can anyway. Peace is a group project. I am not asking you to solve the problem. I am only asking you to join the group.”
I learned today that the eight pointed star that is on so many Christmas sweaters, the one I thought was a snowflake, was first used as a star of Bethlehem, one of the oldest Palestinian designs. The west saw it and liked it and started using it as a decoration without the deep history. I think that means something, that the star leading the foreigners to the Prince of Peace has been around me this whole time and I had no idea. But this year, because of war in Palestine, I am learning how these ancient people have long been weaving together signs of peace.
I follow D.L. Mayfield on instagram and here on Substack. I followed her when she was the kind of Christian I was trying to be, and I think now that she has de-converted and speaks honestly about the problems with white western Christianity, it is just as important for me to hear her voice. She spoke the other day about the Christian churches in nazi germany, the ones who were unconcerned about the atrocities happening in their country, but were just enjoying the Christmas season, exchanging gifts, feeling cozy while they sang silent night. That thought haunts me. I don’t want to be like them, but I feel the culture pulling me into that place. It is December! Why talk about war when you can have a hot toddy and watch episodes of British bake off while you craft by the tree?
Advent, if we aren’t careful can be a blanket that smothers the bad. Just light the candle and think of the baby Jesus. Twinkling light and silent night and just feel peaceful by forgetting all the bad things that are happening in your world, in your country, down the street. That isn’t what advent is for. Advent is for naming that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Bethlehem was an occupied state. It is for admitting that Bethlehem is still an occupied state. It is for praying for peace, and calling our representatives for peace, and posting for peace and admitting that there is no peace without justice. It is a chance to open my eyes to the fact that the eight pointed star that I thought was nothing more than a snowflake, is a symbol of a hope for peace a people has been believing in since before my savior was earthside. Advent is an invitation to join them, because that is where we find Jesus.