I can’t remember a season of hope that has been so heartbreaking. We rejoice in the hope of Christ, but we suffer the violence of a world that refuses His peace. We see signs of the Kingdom all around us, but we still contend with the powers and principalities that Paul wrote about. In many ways our nation, and the world, is safer than it’s ever been, but events like the shootings in Newtown bring us to our knees in grief. We yearn for consistency and clarity. What we get are paradoxes that threaten to push some of us into resignation and others of us into vengeance.
The birth of Christ shows us a different way. Christ didn’t condemn or exonerate the world from afar. He came into the world in order to transform the world. Likewise, we must wade into the chaotic mire of good and evil in the world and live the peace and reconciliation we long for. But we can only do so in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the footsteps of Christ. A humanistic peace ethic may temporarily ameliorate our problems, but will never transform them. Our hope must be with Jesus, the king who came to serve and suffer. His life, death and resurrection redeemed the paradoxes of life. Jesus brought Good News: The Kingdom can be found in this world where we rejoice and suffer, often at the same time.
We can, and peacemakers must!, embrace the paradoxes of the world and allow them to work out through our lives of peace. With Jesus as our guide and communities of faith to travel with, these paradoxes lead to the shalom all our hearts long for.
Perhaps 2013 will truly be a new year and we will deal with the long-overdue accounts that now demand attention. I believe it can be if we keep our focus on Jesus and refuse to give our allegiance to any ideology. Ideologies encourage us to reject paradox altogether. They tell us paradoxes are problems to be solved by any means, including force. They promise protection from the winds of paradox. The unfortunate consequence is they often shield us from the wind of the Holy Spirit, blowing indiscriminately, effortlessly bringing the change ideologies strive so hard to manufacture.
Instead let’s move boldly into the world, confident that our Lord came upon similar paradoxes as we do today and taught us not to avoid them, but to enter them as pathways to the Kingdom of God.
This issue of PeaceSigns has lots for you to consider. Great, heartfelt work by contributors old and new. Thanks as always for your readership.