Peace on Earth. The story of Christmas seems to bring into the fore front of our thoughts that theme at this time of year. For those of us who read the papers and listen to the news daily this is more likely a reminder of a continuing hope not a daily reality. From places like Mexico and other drug producing countries, to Afghanistan and Iraq to the over throw of Libya and rest of the Arab Spring, is there really hope of Peace on Earth?
As I was listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week, two gentlemen guests argued the point that this is the most peaceful time in the history of our species. Really. It seems “cleaner”, smaller wars and the presence of the world enforcement agencies, N.A.T.O. and the U.N., have led them to this conclusion.( Though one of the guests, Joshua Goldstein, admits the US “has had a hard decade of war, no doubt about it, and one war is one too many. The things that still happen are heartbreaking and terrible”). Even murder in the US is at the lowest point is has been since 1963 according to http://www.disastercenter.com. These things seem to be pointing us in the right direction but is it really leading us to Pace on Earth?
After work that day on my way home I was listening to some U2. I love their music and ironically enough Bono is an active proponent of peace ( Though I wasn’t listen to the CD for that reason). I was listening to their CD “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” because the first songs are really upbeat and I was thinking it would be a infuse a breath fresh air into my psyche. Things were going good until track eight and the words hit me like a hammer:
“Heaven on Earth, we need it now
I’m sick of all of this hanging around
Sick of sorrow, sick of the pain
I’m sick of hearing again and again
That there’s gonna be peace on Earth ”
Then, as a person who believes in Christ and the hope that there will be real and lasting peace, the chorus took me by surprise:
“Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth
Tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth
No whos or whys
No one cries like a mother cries
For peace on Earth
She never got to say goodbye
To see the color in his eyes
Now he’s in the dirt
Peace on Earth ”
I understand that religion has done much harm to the tepid, at best, waters of human peace. I am part of the problem because I am human but also I heard a man wanting to “hear” from this person who professes to bring peace. ” Jesus can you take some time…” Yes I too feel this way.
So I wanted to know why U2 decided to write this song and found this on their site: “Extreme militant Unionists and militant Republicans didn’t like the word compromise. Some of these militants broke away and a dissident Republican group known as the Continuity IRA decided to try and destroy the peace process, which was just taking baby steps, by letting off a car bomb in the tiny town centre of Omagh on 15 August 1998. It killed 29 people and injured 220 men, women and children just out doing their Saturday shopping… Maybe because we felt we had a stake in the peace process, I could not comprehend how people could do something like that. The closest I ever came to a crisis of faith happened after that. It was hard to be a believer at that moment. We wrote the song ‘Peace On Earth’ after that, which is as bitter and as angry a song as U2 have ever written.” – Bono, U2 By U2 2006
The next day the Bride and I went for a walk around a local lake. I couldn’t stop thinking about Peace on Earth. Saturday and Sunday we were playing in a local production called “Behold the Lamb of God” by Andrew Peterson. It is a story about Christs birth and what believers like me hope will lead to true peace on earth. All I have is faith. A story in a book. That’s all. No science to back it up and a lot of history between His birth and now to say it ain’t so. As the cold wind tugged at me body the cold wind of conviction tugged at my soul: Do I believe there will be Peace on Earth?