The Advent of Peace
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace. Isaiah 9:6-7a
Last week, as I reflected on the Advent theme of Hope, I wrote that what we wait, hope, and prepare for in Advent is the birth of the Christ-child. Crucial to understanding the birth of the Christ-child, however, is our realization that the birth of the Christ-child is not an external event, nor is it only something that happened 2000 years ago in an obscure, Middle Eastern town. Rather, the birth of the Christ-child is something personal and intimate that occurs at the deepest level of our inner being. The secret key to opening the doors of hope, peace, joy, and love of Advent is already planted within us. It is not secret because it is hidden or intentionally kept from us. The Christ-child is always nearer to us than we know. It only seems secret because we cannot find it in the ways we typically search for things. This inner child is the manifestation of Emmanuel, which is translated as God is with us. A more illustrative translation might be God is within us.
The Christ-child is the essence of our soul. Technically, it does not need to be born in or to us since it has always been there. Rather, the season of Advent reminds us to awaken to its presence. That awakening is what we hope for in Advent because it allows the best, most holy version of ourselves to emerge. The Christ-child is the core of our being and our true self. It is the part of us that cannot be harmed or defiled by anything or anyone of the earth. It is also where we are connected to God and to each other. True and endless peace is only possible to those who awaken to the Christ-child within.
In order to better illustrate the difference that renewing our connection to the Christ-child makes, I will provide some context. It is a level of awareness that changes how we experience everything in our lives. While it is true that we cannot change the past, we certainly can change how the past impacts us today. We can change how we view or interpret the past as well as the present. And we can change the context of events. For example, if we focus only on the labor pains of giving birth, our experience of the birth of a child is one of extreme discomfort. However, when we place those same labor pains into the larger context of the birth and growth of a beloved child we see the labor pains as but one necessary step in a beautiful journey.
The Christ-child within cannot be wounded, abandoned, or diminished because the context of its existence is eternal. The ups and downs of our everyday lives are but bumps on the road of an unfathomable, incredible, and everlasting journey. We lose sight of the wonder because we get too wrapped up in and attached to the details and pleasures of our earthly existence. We believe the lie that we are separate, independent, time-limited beings, and that illusion leads to countless sins and sufferings on earth. We lose sight of where we came from as we grow, believing we are but small, vulnerable trees struggling for survival in an enormous, forbidding forest instead of understanding we are intimate, inseparable, and beloved parts of the larger forest of being. And the farther we separate ourselves from our pure, innocent, and connected essence, the more distant we feel from God and those around us.
Typically, we build our hopes on whatever earthly possessions we can gather and claim for ourselves, like bank accounts, homes, and furnishings. Our possessions, however, provide no lasting satisfaction nor do they provide security on or beyond earth. Our sense of peace is tied to the protection of our possessions, so our peace, too, is built on a shaky, temporary foundation. That type of peace only comes through violent acts of hoarding or otherwise preventing the sharing of that which ultimately does not belong to us anyway. Much of our joy is tied to our sense of happiness with our possessions. What passes for the love we so desperately seek is conditional and not reassuring.
We cannot experience the hope, peace, joy, or love of Advent except by experiencing it through the Christ-child. The farther we stray from that holy center, the less peace we know and the less peaceful we become. And there can be no peace on earth until we find peace within.
For a musical meditation on Peace, please click on this link: https://youtu.be/7-0U1uxlm0k
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