Yesterday we talked about the peace that Jesus makes available for all mankind. In our Softer Sunday service we sang this classic Christmas hymn. And as we were singing I was struck by the despair in the third verse.
This song was written during the American Civil War. A time when the nation was being torn apart by many factors. Perhaps the most widely known factor was the American South’s insistence on maintaining their right to own slaves. Black lives were seen as less than white people’s lives.
This song was written 150 years ago.
It breaks my heart that our country is still going through so much turmoil and pain around race relations. It is just sad.
And my white brothers and sisters. We don’t have to understand the pain the black community is feeling right now to still acknowledge that their pain is real. And their pain should be our pain.
I heard someone quote Martin Luther King Jr. And the quote has really struck me.
“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
The news tends to highlight the riots but the truth is people have been quietly and respectfully protesting the events in Ferguson and New York. When these respectful protests go unheard, this pain escalates.
Also frustrating, is that I feel like I can’t do anything to help.
But that’s not true. I can hear the cries of the hurting and broken around me and try to be a peacemaker. That’s what Jesus challenged his disciples to do in Matthew 5:9.
“Blessed are the peacemakers
For they will be called children of God.”
There is incredible pain all around us. My prayer is that the church will be their to mourn with those who mourn, pursue peace and reconciliation between people and God. And all the while keep praying and hoping for the day when Jesus will finally set all things right. When there will be true peace on earth.
Christmas is a time that reminds us that while we have not fully seen peace on earth. There is a day when we will truly see peace. And it’s only ultimately possible through the work of Jesus, as he makes peace between humanity and God available, and his followers get to share that peace with the world.