Can we talk about how effortlessly rich Kathleen Battle’s voice is? Hands down my favorite soprano of all time.
“The peace of the Lord be with you.” We greet, shake hands, smile into the eyes of strangers and mumble the words.
But peace, my friends, is something tangible. It is as real as a blanket of snow falling.
When Jesus sent out his disciples two by two he armed them with authority to bring His kingdom life to them. He instructed them with this: “whatever town you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave, As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you,” (Mt 10:11-13).
In our Messiah lectionary we discover the King riding in on a donkey, not a war horse. Handel is pointing to prophecy that was fulfilled with His triumphal entry. Palm Sunday. Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates Zechariah 9:9-12 in the Message:
“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding a donkey,
a mere colt of a donkey. I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
no more war horses in Jerusalem,
no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations,
a peaceful rule worldwide,
from the four winds to the seven seas.”
Those leaning in close to Zechariah’s poetry have been pummeled by war. They have been tossed between Babylon, Persia and various little superpowers, bruised and abused. Not only are they feeling powerless, they are despairing. They haven’t seen anything that resembles normal Jewish life in generations and the stories of God’s glory are starting to be snuffed by time. What do they need? A Conqueror. But, here comes the Promised One and He shocks them.
He comes riding on a donkey.
They may be begging for someone to shake down the stones of their enemies, but here the Messiah comes riding without a sword to draw.
Donkey riding is for peace-makers, not warriors. There’s no white steed here. But here’s the real shocking difference, He comes not just for them. He comes spreading peace in His wake around the world.
This peace is not something the Israelites will bottle up, hold close, treasure in their Temple. This peace is a gift spread round the world, across Alps and penetrating the steep valleys of Papua. No corner of life will be untouched.
And this is our hope. “Peace be still,” He declared to the wind and the waves and this Advent I have waves that are white and cresting.
The wind and the waves obey and so will our chaotic hearts. And this, my friends, is worth great rejoicing.
But perhaps it is the rejoicing that will pave a way for the promised One to come. Perhaps the joy spoken out loud opens the door.
We rejoice and His Kingdom will spread like a snapped opened sheet to all corners of the earth. And peace will fall heavy on our laps, on our hearts, penetrate every corner of our streets, our homes. Because it is a substance. It is not just the absence of something like war or anxiety, it is His Presence come in the front door and taking up residence.
When we search for peace, we find Him.
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis
We’re on our way to the manger, journeying together. Come on the pilgrimage with us? Slip your email into the CONNECT box on the front page and let’s rejoice in His coming together.