Our church today celebrated the second Sunday of Advent 2019 in a traditional way, lighting the Candle of Peace. Though there are different practices and traditions attached to celebrating Advent, this observation draws us to reflect on what’s truly important about Christmas (the birth of Christ).
Angels were the first heralds to announce “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.” (Luke 2:14) But peace often seems out of our grasp. I’m reminded of Longfellow’s 1863 poem “Christmas Bells.” Each stanza echoes the words peace on earth, good will to men while the sixth stanza derisively proclaims “there is no peace on earth.“
Once upon a time, law enforcement officers were known as peace officers. As officers of the law, their primary task focused on preserving public peace and restraining law breakers. In our world where “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth,” the role of a peace officer is beyond difficult. It’s becoming ever more deadly.
Yesterday, a Saturday night like countless others, Officer Stephen Carr was sitting in his cruiser outside the police station. Without warning, this 27 year old was executed by an individual who walked up to the parked patrol vehicle and opened fire.
Though I was not privileged to know Officer Carr, I know others in the Fayetteville Police Department. This senseless act has stunned our quiet community. (A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Officer Carr’s family.)
Hours earlier on Saturday, a Houston police officer, Sgt. Christopher Brewster, was responding to a call when he was shot and killed. Just the day before (on Friday) a Huntsville (AL) police officer, Billy Fred Clardy III, was slain during a drug bust. Three valiant peace officers lost within one 30 hour time frame.
There is no peace on earth?
Even Longfellow decried his own statement, countering with the observation: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!” When circumstances are awful, it’s good to be reminded God never sleeps. We can have hope in this holiday season, knowing Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Ultimately, Peace on Earth comes through knowing Him.