‘Peace on earth,’ the angels sang.
We sing it too,
in carols, oratorios.
We talk of peace,
put it on bumper stickers,
print it on Christmas cards.
Peace is what we want.
Yet in Kirkuk, Congo, Colombia [insert places from current news)
they hack each other down.
In urban streets they mug and rape,
open fire in college halls,
kill on backwoods roads.
And politicians close to home
deplore such violence,
yet draw lines across the civic scene,
declaring those on one side right,
and all the rest all wrong.
Peace is what we say we want,
but deeds belie the words.
‘The Dayspring from on high’ has come.
A new Dawn lights the path to peace,
and Jesus is its name.
He brought ‘the things that make for peace,’
said, ‘Peace I leave with you.’
Peace his gift — with strings attached:
poverty of spirit — thirst for justice,
love of enemy — being last, not first.
In this world of sin
these took him — take us — to Golgotha.
It’s a price we will not pay.
The cost of war and hate and grief
seems low compared to what Christ asks.
As long as that’s the case,
vacuous our talk of peace.
Yet still the Dayspring lights the way,
ready to guide us on the path
taken by the Prince of Peace.
Written for Advent 2007 at Centre Congregational Church United Church of Christ, Brattleboro, Vermont USA