Peace (On Roman Roads)
This Sunday was our second of Advent, as we continued to Travel Together to Bethlehem. This Sunday we thought about peace. Although there was not time this week to read the poem during my sermon, I’ll share this recommendation by a member of the congregation: Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things.”
In The First Christmas, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan note that “For Augustus and for Rome it was always about peace, but always about peace through victory, peace through war, peace through violence.” They point out that peace itself is not usually the issue – regardless of who you are, you probably would say that you want peace. The more important question is how you think peace can, or perhaps more importantly, should be achieved. They write, “The imperial kingdom of Rome – and this may indeed apply to any other empire as well – had as its program peace through victory. The eschatological kingdom of God has as its program peace through justice.”
Peace through victory, and peace through justice. Both visions of peace that are presented to us throughout our scriptures, and throughout our history – although peace through victory might be more likely to come to mind. . . .
When we look to peace through justice, it becomes a vision of peace that we can participate in. Justice is not just a goal or outcome, but something that needs to be lived into. It touches the decisions we make in our individual lives and as communities. During September, when we were talking about Creation Time, I mentioned a concept of social influence: when we see others making choices to simplify their lives, opt out of consumer culture and otherwise act in ways that are increasingly environmentally conscious, we are more likely to do so ourselves. Similarly, when we see others acting in ways that promote justice, in our relationships, communities and congregations, as well as in our country and world, then we are more likely to do so ourselves. Or, when others see us living into justice in our actions and decisions big and small, they are more likely to do so as well. . . .