Two of my younger brothers are in the military. One was supposed to be home from Afghanistan by Christmas. On Monday, while the office was a flurry of Christmas cheer, he called me and I dissolved in tears because the truth is that he still doesn't know when exactly he'll be home.
This is a miracle.
The miracle is not that he is in Afghanistan or that the military, for all it's pomp, circumstance, and bureaucratic red tape, is one of the most inefficient machines I've ever encountered. The miracle is not that he doesn't know when he'll be home or that he is calm, collected about that. It's not even a miracle that he calls once a month (I've learned to answer those 'unknown' numbers that are 98% telemarketers and 2% brothers calling from war-torn countries.).
The miracle is that when I hear his voice, I weep.
Second-borns are notoriously passive-aggressive and third-borns are notorious instigators and we two did not escape the notority. Suffice it to say that our entire childhood was marked by infractions and arguments. There were never two of us who had to be more separated by our parents than we two.
The only time in my life that I can remember a palpable anger in my heart was in 2000, against him. We were both grieving the loss of Drew, sure, but his sharp tongue and my flailing hand met each other and I have never forgotten what divisions that moment exposed.
So that we love one another, this is a miracle.
But that we are friends, this is the work of peace.
I pray for peace in the middle east and the world, and I'll admit, though my feet have been on much foreign soil, it was not until I had uniform wearing, gun wielding brothers, that I prayed as earnestly and desperately for it as I do now.
There is deep in me, a confidence: the Prince of Peace has not abdicated and my prayers are there mainly to realign my confidence in His sovereignty and goodness.
There are wars and rumors of wars, and there is brokenness between siblings and parents, and there is strife between political parties and even among parties themselves. There is fear in the hearts of military parents and spouses and children, and there is arrogance in the hearts of leaders and insurgents.
Here, in Advent season, we want to set things right, we want to be peace, and extend peace, and experience peace. Somewhere, deep inside every one of us, we want to see resolution, a rightness of the wrong, a oneness. And so we busy ourselves sweeping up streets and feeding the poor, rescuing broken people and trying desperately to put things right. Making peace our object and end goal.
But peace can't be the object because He is the object.
And He has set peace on our hearts because He has set eternity on the hearts of every one of us.
It's a miracle, while things are broken all around us, to see wrong things put right. To love my brother as fiercely as I do, to weep freely on the phone with him, to need him, to love him. This is the miracle of King of Peace--not of peace itself.
It's a miracle, while things are broken all around us that every good thing is there to point us to redemption, the plan, a reminder: this isn't home, but here's a glimpse of home. A piece of the Real Prince of Peace.
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!