December 14, 2009

the one we are waiting for

A couple of weeks ago, our president spoke before the nation and an audience at West Point to announce a surge in military personnel in Afghanistan.  This on the heels of being named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  And only a week before Barack Obama accepted the prize in Oslo.

The two are in so many ways incompatible. From his speech, Obama himself stated:
Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

Some in my congregation have relatives who are serving our country.  Others have friends that they have said goodbye to far too many times. Many in my congregation have lived through wars and have the memories of sacrifice and bloodshed ingrained deep within their souls.

There is not one among us who doesn't long for peace. And we are unsure if what we are doing as a nation will get us there.  We pray it will.  We hope that peace and stability will come quickly. We want our sons and daughters and sisters and brothers and fathers and mothers and neighbors to come home.

But I think what the counterpoint of the Nobel Peace Prize and our current wars tells us is that we should not look for peace from a national leader. No matter the obesience paid to our president, he is not the one we are waiting for.  He, nor any other leader within our world today, is our savior.  He is not the Prince of Peace.

We are waiting for another.

The prophet Micah describes him in this way:
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. (Micah 5:4-5)
Mary and Elizabeth and the child in Elizabeth's womb cannot contain their joy as they encounter this promise of God - yet unborn.  They have been longing and waiting and hoping for so long.

As Elizabeth greets and praises her cousin, she exclaims: Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.

Blessed is she who not only believed in a miraculous birth... but blessed is she who believes that this child is the fulfillment of what God has promised. Blessed are we who hope and pray and wait and believe in what God has promised.

In a world of cynicism and violence, a world of confusion and hatred, we still dare to believe that the Prince of Peace will reign. We dare to hope that nation will not rise up against nation.  We dare to wait for the day when the powerful are brought down from their thrones and the lowly are lifted up.

Steve Goodier tells the story of a monument in Hiroshimas Peace Park. It is in memory of a young girl who died from radiation-induced lukemia after the dropping of the bomb and who tried to fold 1000 paper cranes before her death.  The monument reads:  This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world.

Now as much as ever, our cry is for peace in the world.  And in this season of Advent, we stand in the face of war and suffering and we look for the coming of peace.  We accept nothing short of peace.  And we firmly believe that one is coming that will make our prayers a reality.

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