Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9: 2-7
Gracious God, as we reflect on the Prince of Peace, we remember all the places in the world and our lives where conflict and death reign. Be with all who work for justice and peace and guide us to be better peacemakers. Amen.
Prince of Peace
Peace is one of the few concepts that resonates in every tribe and nation on the planet. But what is peace, really? In our cultural context, peace is most associated with an absence of conflict and violence. That definition certainly sounds good; however, ancient Israel had a much richer definition for peace which went beyond nonviolence. Shalom is the word used in Hebrew.
Shalom is not only an absence of hostility, but also a reordering of our inner being and social system to promote welfare generally. A greeting of “Shalom” is a blessing, a prayer that your soul, body, home, relationships, and resources would all be living in harmony with the world around you as God intended.
When Isaiah declares the prophecy that the coming Messiah will be called “the Prince of Peace” it is far more than a political statement or a call to nonviolence. Isaiah was not declaring that once the promised King arrived on the scene that all peoples would instinctually get along. Instead, Isaiah foretold of one who would reorder what it means to be human. This reordering by the Prince of Peace would give us tools for peacekeeping in our world: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In the Christmas story, Jesus arrives on earth as the long-awaited Prince of Peace, and His life brings a reordering that changes human history going forward. More than a world absent of conflict, Jesus initiates an ordering of the world that restores and transforms through peacemaking:
“Peace requires the capacity to forgive. Peace requires a readiness to share generously. Peace requires the violation of strict class stratification in society. Peace requires attentiveness to the vulnerable and the unproductive. Peace requires humility in the face of exaltation, being last among those who insist on being first and denying self in the interest of neighbor. These are all practices that mark His presence in His society.” – Walter Brueggemann, Names of the Messiah
How was Jesus unlike a prince in his time?
How is Jesus unlike the leaders of our time?
As a peacemaker resisting the way of this world and seeking the peace of our community, tell how you live into each of the following areas:
- Breaking class stratification
- Attending to the vulnerable and unproductive
- Becoming last in a world chasing “first-ness”
- Denying yourself for the sake of your neighbor
Prince of Peace, come again and organize our world to do things that make for peace. Until then, empower your church to live your values and preach your peaceful realm to the world. Amen
Westside Church Advent Guide: westsidechurch.org/advent/
“Names of the Messiah”, Walter Brueggemann