Preachers worth their salt will give careful attention to the unique preaching opportunities this Advent season presents. The election of Donald Trump did more than prove that Americans will elect a controversial candidate. Tragically the election revealed a divide in our country, a divide much wider and deeper than anyone realized. Wednesday morning after the election, our country woke up to the undeniable fact that a very large segment of the American electorate is frustrated, angry and divided. Every post-election analysis and editorial has admitted this. Because these emotions are evident in ways they had not been previously, the advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love take on new meaning.
Jesus intended that His church be a community of faith that represents a different type of bond, a bond of genuine love: “By this will all people know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.’ Yet, the toxic culture of our society has infected our churches more than we realize. This fact was brought home when I saw church members “de-friend” fellow church members on Facebook simply because they could not stand being “friends” with someone in their own church who supported the other candidate. How does that attitude measure up to Paul’s admonition: “Let love be without hypocrisy….”?
The need for healing and restoration of relationships goes far beyond politics. Too many of our families are fractured and too many of our churches have developed a culture of criticism and discontent.
This advent season, these words, edited from Maya Angelous’ poem, Amazing Peace, seem like a good starting point for the message of peace this advent season:
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
We tremble at the sound (of peace). We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”