On this date, “a date which will live in infamy,” we mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base. With the deaths of over 2,500 people and the injuries sustained by over 1,000 others, the United States entered World War II, joining the side of the Allied Forces. The atrocity of the surprise attack scarred the nation, and we remember it still.
Unfortunately, this is not the only time that our country has experienced such devastating violence, and we carry many wounds in our national conscience. Also unfortunate is the fact that we are not the only nation who bears such pain. Even as I write this, reports are coming in that the Syrian city of Aleppo is falling away from opposition-control, and the world bears witness to the tragic struggle that rendered that city a decimated disaster zone.
Peace, one of the major themes of Advent, daringly sprouts like a tender shoot growing in a crack in the pavement of a busy highway. Delicately fragile, God’s promised peace is there, yet it is so vulnerable and so tiny. We may feel tempted to turn our backs on that sprig of hope, believing that it will never stand a chance to grow to its fullest potential, becoming a tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of nations. We may not even see that little branch, obscured by the multitude of things happening in our lives and in our world. Yet each Advent, we spend weeks listening to the reminder that God’s peace is coming, that swords will be fashioned into plowshares, that we will no longer go to war school, that there will never again be a date which will live in infamy.
Jesus asks us to take heart and summon the courage and spiritual strength to seek out, protect, and cultivate the tender buds of peace that do manage to peak through the soil, despite all the odds against peace. Until Christ comes again, we will hear of wars and rumors of wars, there will be disasters, and illness, and hatred, and disease, and loss, and pain. This is the human experience. Given this reality, though, God’s word calls us to persevere, bearing up one another when we are strong, and allowing our sisters and brothers to bear us up when we are weak. In this way, we hasten the reign of peace by making peace between our neighbors and ourselves. May the peace of Advent be with you.