Voices in the wilderness
On the second Sunday in Advent we focus on Peace. The endless search for peace in a world still bound by war. A world sometimes mired in hatred and abuse. A world touting the ethics of the strong, justifying great abuses of power, deriding the ‘self-inflicted’ misery of the weak: the man on the corner; the woman at the food bank; the bankrupt business person; Greece; Africa…
Yet, if we listen, we can hear the prophets, crying out for peace, for justice, for environmental sanity. Voices crying in a wilderness of dead ends, box canyons, sheer ridges and impassable deserts. Voices ancient as the sands of time; voices new as the cries of babies.
In the Hebrew Scriptures hear Malachi prophesying in the wilderness of the return from exile in Babylon. Crying out to all the people: the returnees; the left behind; the ones who’d moved in to fill vacancies after Babylon had emptied the land of people and resources. Focusing on the Levites. The priestly clan from whom one would expect the best but would often get lip-service, self-service, or simply no-service at all. They can do better. God will send a messenger to make it so.
In the Christian Scriptures we read Paul’s words. Calling and prophesying in the face of an empire that named itself ‘peace bringer’. ‘Pax Romana’ whose peace-making Legions beat, enslaved, crucified and otherwise enforced the will of the God-Emperor upon the tribute paying world. Paul spoke to all the people, rich, poor, Jewish, Roman, Greek, man, woman, slave or free. Paul called upon all, but focused on those who’d committed to live the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. To bring peace through an overflowing of love to the aching world.
Prophets new and prophets old, voices calling in the wilderness with the same message over and over and over again: Malachi to the Levites; Paul to the followers of Jesus; Gandhi to Indians and British alike; Martin Luther King Jr from Birmingham Jail; Tommy Douglas preaching from hay wagons; and Nelson Mandela from prison. They all said, with complete and utter truthfulness and sure and certain knowledge right from God: ‘If the question is peace and plenty, forgiveness and grace, assurance and blessing, the answer, written in God’s heart and upon the face of the living world – is you.’
One of our modern prophets, Marianne Williamson writes (in ‘A Return to Love’):
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
How will you be light to a waiting and darkened world?
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.