Advent Candles (2)

The San Bernardino, California shooting last week has left many Americans feeling insecure. Everyone feels more comfortable when the war on terrorism happens half-a-world away (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, or Afghanistan). But when it comes to a nearby neighborhood, the stakes change.

swords-into-plowsharesPresident Obama addressed the nation last night. Talk show pundits have pontificated for days about how to make us safer. Even Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University (the largest Christian University in the world), last Friday advocated that his students apply for concealed-weapon permits so they could teach a lesson to any Muslim (terrorist) who comes to campus.

Gun control advocates and opponents are back at it. Donald Trump would have everyone in America armed like mercenaries, at all times, and in all places. Meanwhile, debate is underway about the limits of surveillance and the value/virtue of monitoring Islamic mosques more closely.

The events of this past 5-7 days, following on the heels of the Paris attacks a couple of weeks ago, has produced widespread phobia and rising levels of hysteria.

This second week of Advent has a second candle — the Candle of Peace. How (strangely) appropriate.

The Candle refocuses our attention on the Prince of Peace and the message of the angels when Christ was born: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among all people” (Luke 2:14). If only.

The social conversation this week seems far more focused on protection than peace. People want to feel safe rather than find reconciliation. The rhetoric between us divides and damages us. And we increasingly opt for isolation because it feels safer than exposure. Everyone wants to hunker in a bunker.

At a personal level, peace will never come by arming ourselves and resorting to the same violence as our enemies. Hysteria cannot understand this. Historical myopia denies it.

The pathway to peace comes by walking with the Prince of Peace and living like the Prince of Peace.

The Advent candle this week — quietly burning, seemingly soft and gentle — challenges the vitriole of politicians and the muscle of the NRA. The Candle of Peace calls us to a higher hope, a greater Way, and a different word for a culture in apocalyptic upheaval.

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10 Responses to Advent Candles (2)

  1. Jan Neff says:

    Oh Jesus, come quickly, because we have, in our country and the world, a very real spiritual problem. I keep reminding myself to look up and not around me for peace. No politician has the answer, only the Prince of Peace. He prepares for me a table right in the midst of my enemies, just like choosing to live in the eye of the hurricane. The wind might be fierce but He brings the calm when I choose to reside there. I was flying into Atlanta to catch a plane to LAX – going to one of your classes! On our twin engine plane, I looked out the window and saw the engine spewing fire. I remember thinking, “oh, this can’t be good!” About that time the captain comes on and says we have a fire in that engine and he must shut t down, but not to worry because we can make it the rest of the way fine with one engine. Ever seen an airport fire engine? Looks like something from the war. Anyway, people on the plane were freaking out. The lady beside me asked if I wasn’t even worried. I could honestly say no, because I have a relationship with Jesus and I knew where I was going if the plane should crash. She looked at me as though I was nuts. But that’s the way I always want to live. Just sometimes I’m better at it than others…….

    • David Timms says:

      Jan, I wish everyone had that experience on the way to one of my classes. They might listen more intently! 🙂 Thanks for the story … and the reminder that Christ prepares a table for us in the midst of our enemies. Powerful image!

  2. Colin says:

    spot on David. how refreshing to hear a sound and compassionate response

  3. Elaine Steil says:

    Walking with the Prince of Peace. Amen. That’s says it all. The peace that transcends all understanding (truly) does guard our hearts and mind.

  4. Jeff Fuller says:

    Hello David, Thank you for this message! 

    I understand that we are all called to be at peace, but what do you recommend an individual or parent do in defense of himself or family if they are brutally attacked either in their home or in public by individuals that don’t believe in peace? 

    Best regards,Jeff Fuller

    • Chris Sesto says:

      I agree with Jeff Fuller, being a peaceful Christian does not make you a submissive sheep that allows evil to violate your home or family. I am a peace loving Christian man who believes that a mans life is sacred and worth defending. All life is precious in the eyes of God, however God advocated the eradication of evil.

      • David Timms says:

        Chris, I completely agree with you about the sanctity of life. I do wonder, however, about your comment that “God advocated the eradication of evil.” I suspect if that be true, then neither you nor I would be here to write about it. All of us have evil within us — of different kinds and different levels. I suspect that the purveyors of pornography are doing far more to violate our families than any armed intruders. Perhaps we should go after them a little more aggressively?

    • David Timms says:

      Jeff, that’s always the question that is posed … and there’s no easy answer. Few, if any, of us will face a brutal attack in our homes. Guns may give a sense of safety. They also add to the culture of violence that we have both accepted and embraced. Fear (of violence) will always call courage (to disarm) stupidity. It’s a tough conversation, and conclusions either way are costly.

  5. Bob Berkman says:

    Beautifully written David, couldn’t agree more. I believe 2 Chronicles 7:13 tells us our part.

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