“Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you”. St Augustine
Traditionally, the second Sunday in Advent has us reflecting on “Peace”. It has become a well-established part of the Christmas season to wish one another, “peace on earth”. Yet we tend to think of peace as the absence of war, our minds fill with the scenes of soldiers leaving their trenches to play football against one another. But what if “peace” is a bit more personal than that. It’s what we are looking at in our reading this week which focusses on Luke’s account of the ministry of John the Baptist.
John is presented as a wild character, warning Israel of their need to repent before it is too late, referring to them as “a brood of vipers”. It’s not the most peaceful imagery we can imagine. But his message is simple. God is about to come among you, so you need to be prepared. You need to turn your lives around and start being the people God wants you to be. You need to remove all the obstacles you have put up between you and God. You need to make peace between yourself and God. For once you have peace between yourself and God you will know peace in all other areas of your life and then everyone can see the glory of God.
This is the challenge for us too. Do we tend to think that our relationship with God is going fine simply because we go to church? We need to ask if we have put up any obstacles between ourselves and God. Perhaps it is our attitude to our possessions, perhaps it is some intellectual argument or something else. As long as we are fighting with God, we will be fighting with everything and everyone else. Once we find peace with God, we can let this peace flow out into all our other relationships. If everyone did that, we would indeed have peace on earth at last