Sunday, December 9, 2007

Advent's Purple Peace

The Prince of Peace. That's the title of the Christ that we most want to bring to life, isn't it? Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father...they are awe-inspiring, yes...but it is peace that we want.

Shalom is one of the many words that is translated peace. It is the word that is used in this instance to describe Messiah. If you follow the link for this word at the beginning of this paragraph, it will give you the following definitions:
  1. completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
    1. completeness (in number)
    2. safety, soundness (in body)
    3. welfare, health, prosperity
    4. peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
    5. peace, friendship
      1. of human relationships
      2. with God especially in covenant relationship
    6. peace (from war)
    7. peace (as adjective)
The challenge of words like peace is that they can only be truly appreciated when their opposite has been experienced. Kind of like light. It is only truly appreciated when one has experienced darkness. And so we come to this week's passage from John 1:

John 1:4-5 (NIV)

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
How often do we struggle against some good thing because we do not understand what it is? If I could just get my precious children to understand this.... In my mind's eye I can see God shaking his head and saying, "I can totally resonate with that sentiment, Beloved."

And so we need to go back and take a look at the famous "Prince of Peace" passage from Isaiah. But we need to start back at the beginning of that chapter, which is always the right thing to do. Especially when it begins with a word like "nevertheless." And that always means that you have to back up a little farther. In this case, we see Isaiah has been talking about the Assyrian oppression, with chapter 8 ending with these words:
22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

Nobody needed shalom quite as much as God's Chosen People--people who formerly had the very visible presence of God in their midst. People who were thrust into utter darkness because of their utter rebellion and, well, utter stupidity! [Don't get me started on just how stupid people can be. My mind's eye is, well, replaying that earlier scene! ;^) ]

Reading this passage is a little more vivid this year because I just finished watching the DVD of Kingdom of Heaven. If you need a visual to help you see that peace is purple, just watch those working, living, fighting and dying for peace dealing with those who are, well, war mongers. Listen to them speaking the blessing of shalom to each other in their greetings and living it with their actions. It was a stunning experience... But I'm not going to go farther down that rabbit trail today... back to Isaiah 9:

Isaiah 9 (NIV)

To Us a Child Is Born
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

5 Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

And Isaiah's words breathed hope into the Children of Abraham during their troubles... and they waited for that glorious day... and they waited... and they waited... for the fullness of time to come.

Peace requires a lot of waiting. It also comes at a high price... a price which is always paid in blood. The blood of those who love peace more than they love their own life. Do we understand this shalom? This purple peace?

I don't know if we can ever fully understand it, but I want to keep trying. Hope waits for peace.


One final thing: I found it interesting that the name AbiShalom means my father is peace. I wonder if that means that AbiSomeone might mean my father is someone? And we're not talking just any Someone. Jesus calls me sister...and that makes his Father my father. Yes, AbiSomeone is a fine name....

AbiSomeone is a purple name because it is represents both that which is Royal and that which Suffers in order to incarnate each important aspect of shalom in Christ's Kingdom of Heaven. I will continue processing this for a long time, I'm certain.

Shalom to you and yours.


Danny said...

hi Peggy,

I just wanted to acknowledge your acknowledgement. haha.

I'll check out his book proposal on Interpolators.

But, yea that is just one aspect of Obama that I am personally attracted to.

Press on.

AbiSomeone said...

Welcome, Danny, and thanks for your acknowledging visiting. ;^)

If you enjoy a challenging thinker, Brad's work should prove very interesting!

I'm still processing the whole basically dismal political scenario, while ever mindful of the incredible privilege, blessing and responsibility it still represents in our world!

Be blessed.