I thought I’d write a little bit more about Mary and Joseph this Advent and in the end I didn’t write a thing about them. Guessers may suggest it was a Protestant reaction against the virgin Mary (which is not true) or a skeptical mistrust of the earthly father of Jesus, who is barely mentioned after the Nativity story (Did he even stick around?). But the truth is, I have all kinds of respect and devotion when I think about the parents who raised Christ in this world, I just didn’t have the time to write much about them. In my private thoughts I did consider what it would have meant for a scared fifteen year old virgin to learn she was pregnant with the son of God, and why her fiance would stand by her in a time in history when it was not only acceptable but even expected that men put women in their place. I know there was a lot of divine intervention through all of this to make sure that things went on as planned, but even considering that it is pretty evident that Mary and Joseph were some incredible human beings. Those are the things I didn’t have time to write about this Advent, I apologize.
I have a little time today though, on this Christmas Eve of 2007, and I wanted to just say a few things about the Prince of Peace whose arrival we will celebrate tomorrow. Something I have been wondering this season is, “Where is the peace?” Since the birth and life and death and resurrection and ascension of Christ there have been countless wars and holocausts, genocides and massacres, and what’s worse, many of those were exacted in his name. (My grade school mascot was the Crusader, for crying out loud!) Jesus may have been a pacifist himself, but we don’t go around calling every kind-hearted soul the Prince of Peace. Even Ghandi didn’t get that kind of a title. I don’t pretend to know history–I have no idea if the cummulative blood shed was greater in the time before his life or after his life, but I know that this post-Christ era is seemingly infinite and the body-count is growing. How can we call Jesus the Prince of Peace when there is no end in sight, where violence is concerned? Jesus may have saved the souls of this world, but he left us here on earth in no better condition than when he came. Right? So why the “Prince of Peace”?
I don’t really like to admit that my Advent meditation was, at times, less than adoring. We’re supposed to focus on the savior, after all, and didn’t I even write a few words about that, about our expectations being horribly misaligned from God’s? So I continued to ponder it and slowly my skepticism was clouded by a realization. In Advent we are not only remembering what it is to anticipate a savior–a savior who has already come, as those of us in the A.D. know–but we are waiting this very day for his return, when he will bring peace! This is one of those ideas that I’ve heard a thousand times–the second meaning of Advent–but I guess I needed to come to realize it on my own for it to fully sink in. We celebrate the birth of a savior who presently brings peace and quietness to our troubled souls, but we also await a prince of peace who will return and obliterate the suffering of this world! This is something to get excited about, this Advent. Peace is coming! And that name bears all relevance: we await the Prince of Peace.