There’s been talk here and there this past week of leaving the Advent candle for peace unlit. There is a desire to do something extraordinary in the face of the horrifying violence being visited on the people of Gaza. But for me, leaving the wick of peace unlit seems an act of despair, a signal that we have fallen into the hopelessness that must come when we depend on ourselves alone. For those who inhabit Advent, it is the transcendent, the Living Presence, that kindles and sustains the desire for peace within us. It is that Living Presence in whom we know and recall Peace. Especially when there are those so horribly used that all thoughts of peace must be torn from them we must dip ourselves over and over again in the One of Peace.
The Christian church in Jerusalem this year has placed the infant Jesus not in a conventional manger, with an adoring cast of characters around him. They’ve reflected his birth in the rubble which is where God can still be found. This is where we are to draw near to God, where we are to care for God in caring for those upon whom rubble is raining down.
One of the ways we care is to recollect the One of Peace through our Advent Candle of Peace. To light it and to be called and strengthened by it. Then, not to extinguish the light but to “change the light”, as the Godly Play language expresses it. To change the light as we slowly and reverently lower our candle snuffer over it. “Look, now the light that was in one place is in every place”. This is what we long for even when we can’t see it.
The Christian church in Jerusalem is cancelling Christmas celebrations this year, expressing the steadfast anguish of the Holy One. They are not cancelling prayer.
So, let us pause and light the candle and let us become prayer.
Breathing in, I pause.
Breathing out, I am still.
As my breathing gentles
I become peace,
a small space of peace in your world.
(the candle is lit)
Take as much time as you need, feel the ground of peace in your body before changing the light.
Let us long for peace together.