"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:9
My mother told me this story years ago: During the run-up to the war in Iraq, a group in my hometown printed yard signs that read, "Say NO to War." Incensed, another group produced signs that said, "Say GO to War." One of her neighbors posted a "Go to War" sign in his yard. Then, a few months later while putting up his Christmas lights he placed an illuminated plastic crèche next to it.
This is the balancing act the world asks Christians to practice: aggression, revenge and the Prince of Peace all living in brightly lit artificial unity. Of course it is impossible. So the world's solution is to reduce Jesus to decoration, while bowing down to violence. You can guess which piece of lawn art was still standing on February 2.
We can box Jesus up and put him in the basement next to the Christmas lights, but we cannot keep him quiet. He insists, "Blessed are the peacemakers." He says it with his mouth. And then he says it with his life. Even as the world alerts us to God's absence, Jesus gives us God's presence: a new way to live, a life of uncomfortable blessings. For he promises that if we receive his beatitudes we'll be reviled, persecuted, slandered. That's life with God. Good thing the alternative is so absurd.
Dear God, give us the courage to receive Christ's uncomfortable blessing.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.