“Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men” – Some Crazy Angel Dude.
That’s what that angel dude said, and interestingly enough it wasn’t said in Jerusalem or Sanai or Rome. Nope. Those would have made a bit more sense in worldly terms, it was said by a crazy angel to….. some socially ostracized shepherds.
God’s peace surpasses understanding, and I think that’s why “Silent Night” works so well. No one who is giving birth to a child is silent. Animals aren’t quiet. Babies… not the quietest as well. Now after birth, things quiet down a bit, but things aren’t quite silent.
Everything is backwards, but it works.
If the message was proclaimed in Rome, it wouldn’t have worked – too much like the patterns of this world reinforcing themselves. The kingdom of God remakes the idea and image of a kingdom in the first place primarily by not starting where it should have.
Of course, God made a shepherd a king before with David.
He picked some old dude to go traveling and have a kid.
Backwards from the world’s stand point is what works. It’s why empire centered ideas and ideals that work in such practical ways can and do fail, although not always. Instead what seems to work consistently is doing things that involve deep unremitting love for God and neighbor through actions, words, and rituals that overwhelm not by force of violence but by force of love.
It’s still force, it’s still motion, it’s still conquering. Let’s not forget that. I know to many people cringing for the idea of force or conquest – they hear echoes of the dark bells of colonialism and cultural destruction. But in order to be wary of the destruction and the impulse to dominate, we have to recognize that we are transforming and looking to be transformed.
Within that idea we can seek to be transformed within an evangelizing frame that loves neighbor as self.
Maybe that’s what the angel dudes were up to out in some field. They started off declaring peace, which is a transformative idea anyways, out in a field to some shepherds. A little baby who conquers the world through dying for it. That’s what all started on Christmas Eve…
*** Sorry for using the word “Dude”, but that’s the kinda mood I’m in.