Here we are in the week before Christmas. At Sandy Hook, an elementary school in Newton Connecticut, 27 people are dead. 7 adults and 20 children shot by a madman, (correction, mad boy, 20 year old boy). We anticipate the birth story of Jesus when the angels proclaim to the shepherds God brings "peace on earth." Where is the ""Peace on Earth" for Newton Connecticut? Another Christmas, another memory of Peace on Earth sung by a chorus of angels. Is our faith-based on a big lie told by angels? It is a lie if we think God coming into human history means an end to mindless violence that plagues our world. Everyone is asking "why?" Just like years ago we asked "why?" after the tragedy of Columbine. We want answers. We want to know who was responsible and how we can prevent such horror in the future. Only the perpetrator of this murder and suicide could have stopped it. Sick forms of violence will forever invade isolated spots of tranquility in our world.
The song angels sing about peace on earth means something different. Corrie Ten Boom writes of a different way, of God's way. "In the range of human emotion, true forgiveness ranks as one of the sweetest and most pleasurable that a human can feel... we call this after effect of forgiveness "a flood of joy and peace." Peace is not the simple absence of firearms. Peace is not simply finding treatment for all of those who struggle with mental illness. Peace on earth means a world where forgiveness rules over the power of hate.
Jesus is God's forgiveness for a broken world tortured by human sin. Peace on earth will be active in our world when God rules our hearts. We pray the pathway of peace on earth, as God's forgiveness, each time we attend worship. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Assault rifles?.... no
more pathways to treat mental illness?.... yes
worship on Sundays and this Christmas eve? .... absolutely if we want to know peace on earth.
This is the church for tomorrow.