Advent 2014 – Devotion 20

Peace on Earth. Good will to all. This is the heart of the Christmas message. But sometimes we feel like peace is not even a glimmer on the far distant horizon. Wars and armed conflicts spread and grow. You can get a lighter for a candle that is made to look like a gun. Then there is the attraction, Machine Gun America, opening tomorrow in Orlando, just in time for Christmas. Here’s the pitch from MGA:

Machine Gun America is Orlando’s first machine gun attraction, sure to hit the bullseye for any thrill-seeker. Whether you’re new on the range or a sharp shooter ready for your next target, you’ll get the rush of power and excitement that can only come from firing real machine guns and powerful firearms with live ammo. Choose from our action-packed packages or take on a custom adventure with your favorite hardware. Scope out the thrill of a lifetime in the safety of our state-of-the-art facility. [Visit machinegunamreica.com to see all the details proving how demented our society has become!]

In spite of all of the violence and war that surrounds us, today, a message of peace dazzles the world. The US is establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. It seems so natural. And yet, I didn’t expect to see it in my lifetime.

I listened to a biography/autobiography of Fidel Castro. It was interesting to learn about his life and his development as a leader and his dreams for his country. I heard about his impressions of the US. I did not agree with everything he said, but I certainly could not see why the US is not relating to Cuba as we do to other countries, say in Central and South America.

And today, we learned that there has been a major shift in US-Cuba relations. This is good news. This is more than a glimmer toward peace on earth. The line from the Christmas hymn comes to mind, “God surprises earth and heaven coming here on Christmas day.”

When we receive Jesus as a gift in our lives, we open ourselves up to unexpected surprises. We never know where we will be led or how the spirit will move. To follow Jesus is to be open to the unexpected. A change of plans. A new direction.

When we receive Jesus as a gift in our lives, we also embrace hope. We never give up on anyone. We accept that everyone can change. Everyone can be redeemed. Transformation is a possibility for everyone.

Peace is possible.

For reflection: When have you been taken in a new direction by the teachings of Jesus? When have you been surprised by the Spirit?

Prayer: So often the surprises of life are not welcome. Yet Christmas invites us to be open to being blessed by the unexpected. Good things can still happen. Change is possible. In fact, it is inevitable. May we be agents of change based on the gospel of Jesus Christ so that there may be at least a little more peace on earth and good will to all. Amen.

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