The focus of the First Sunday of Advent was Hope, and I believe those who created the Advent series made the right choice when the theme of the Second Sunday of Advent was Peace.
If there is anything the world should be hoping for today, it is peace. While many of us may think that peace in our world is a pipe dream, we need to stop and remember that 75 years ago we were in a fierce world war with Germany and Japan. Because we did not seek revenge when that war ended, but instead, helped them to rebuild, they are now among our strongest allies.
Of course, over the years we have been involved in several other conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Afghanistan, and The War on Terror which continues.
Many of you remember the Cold War when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were building up arsenals of atomic weapons and missiles. We may not be in the same kind of arms race today; however, just two weeks ago I saw where Mikhail Gorbachev, who was the last premier of the former Soviet Union when the Cold War came to an end, was speaking out publicly about the current dangers of Russia and U.S. getting involved in renewed conflict.
The end of the Cold War was an opportunity that many hoped would lead to peace. Back in the early 1990’s, when I was an associate dean in the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, we won a contract to provide business education to members of the Russian Space Agency. With the fall of the Soviet Union, they were eager to learn about free markets and capitalism. I taught two different groups classes in finance and managerial accounting. I had a real hope for peace after meeting and teaching them, and I felt that they, also, wanted peace. I gave some cost accounting textbooks to the manager of the MIG-29 program, because under the old Soviet system they never looked at costs. I remember even they joked about how in the former Soviet Union “everyone had a job, nobody worked, and they were paid in funny money.” I also remember that each group wanted to know about credit cards. They seemed to think a credit card was like free money. I still hope that our faculty was able to accomplish instilling the hope of peace in those we taught.
Isaiah 11:1-10 was one of the texts for the Second Sunday of Advent. It is the text where Isaiah prophesies the coming of the Messiah and God’s vision of a peaceable kingdom. This is the vision as Christians we are called to embrace. It is an inspiring vision of the future with the power to lure us toward that future.
Presbyterian Pastor Gregory Knox Jones writes: “Don’t we long for a world where feeding ministries close their doors for lack of clients? Don’t we long for a world where cities lay off police officers because there is so little crime? Don’t we long for a world where children are hugged not hit, the homeless are housed, the mentally ill are healed and no more soldiers are sent to war?”
He goes on to write, “In the long run, progress toward justice and peace is inevitable because God constantly urges people toward treating others with the same respect and dignity that we wish for ourselves. But in the short run, we must resist and overcome those people and powers that are motivated by greed, fear and egocentricity, because they invariably produce injustice, dissension, and strife.”
Jones goes on to write: “Some have advocated pacifism based on this vision, but the cruelty and viciousness out there prevent me from taking that path. Evil must be resisted while we cling to the dream, because our task is to lay the groundwork, so that one day our descendants will be able to beat swords into plowshares.”
I don’t know if you agree with Rev. Jones’ opinions, but I believe we need to remember the vision of peace that God provides to us and do what we can to promote peace and justice at every opportunity we have.
Hope and Peace are the themes for the first two Sundays of Advent, it just makes sense that Joy is the focus for the upcoming Third Sunday of Advent. If our hopes are fulfilled with peace, then our hearts should be filled with joy.
If you are able be in worship somewhere this week during the Season of Advent.