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.
I’m big on gift-giving and, truth be told, gift-receiving.
Gifts are interesting things, saying much about how the giver sees the receiver.
When I think on gifts past from folks, especially my closest family, I notice patterns . . .
My son sees my serious side, giving me challenging books to read, new ideas to consider . . . oh, and every now and then, he sees my desperate need of an update.
My step-son and his wife see my cool side.
My step-daughter sees my peacenik social justice side.
And my mother sees always her child, looking out for my needs.
Which all leaves me to ponder what I see in them as I go shopping through their lists and my own ideas of who they are, what they like, what they dream – for I’ve always thought the best gift has a bit of the dream to it.
One of the best gifts ever came via e-mail today – no grand news of any impending birth . . . no extravagant prize . . . just my step-daughter’s wish list with a bunch of links, with one at the last, simply labeled, "oh, and one more. . ."
I clicked the link, which took me to a Google images page for world peace
World peace . . . my beautiful, wonderful, talented, funny, kind, passionate daughter of my heart wants, wishes, hopes, for world peace for Christmas.
I sit down to type my response to her and there’s a rustling sound of something soft falling. I wonder what it is and go see . . . on the floor are the palm fronds from this past Palm Sunday’s service. I hang them to dry for next year’s Ash Wednesday service and they had fallen to the floor.
And I hear the words in my memory . . . blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord . . . and I remember The One who came so inauspiciously . . . The One who received gifts from the wise . . . The One who was himself the Greatest Gift of All . . .
and I am minded of the readings through Advent . . . the harsh-sounding promises of wars and rumors of wars . . . cataclysmic shifts when moon and stars can no longer be relied upon to move in their courses . . . the coming of the Servant foretold whose suffering is larger than the world itself . . .
and for the first time, through the news and realities of . . . beheadings . . . families severed . . . promises broken . . . endless wrangling . . . tanks sent to neighboring lands . . . wars and rumors of wars the best recruitment posters as people everywhere weigh in on escalation as our only solution . . .
for the first time . . . I hear the whisper . . . the promise . . . in the most unlikely places . . . in the most unexpected ways . . . ways like the birth of a single child in a remote village in a far corner of things . . . when things are at their darkest – there does peace come . . . like Carl Sanburg’s proverbial fog . . . small and quiet, on little cat feet . . .
The hailers of the day have it right . . . there are signs . . . and they have it wrong . . . the signs are not of our doom . . . the signs are of our salvation. . . it is not destruction which has the final word but redemption.
My girl wants world peace for Christmas and I am moved to ask why not. Why not world peace for Christmas?
For unto us a child is born . . . unto us, a Son is given . . . and his name shall be called . . .
The Prince – of Peace