Isaiah foretells of a voice in the wilderness calling for us to prepare the way of the LORD, to prepare a highway that is straight with mountains and valleys leveled, rough places smoothed, and pot holes filled.
John the Baptist is said voice in the wilderness.
John the Baptist is the bridge between the prophets of old, sharing fashion with Elijah echoing their voices, and the new, as Jesus’ cousin who foretells of his ministry and identity as the Christ.
But, John the Baptist is not the biblical person I would associated with peace.
John was brutally honest, extremely vocal, and lacked tact.
John made waves among the common persons.
John rocked the boat with the political leadership and social elite.
John stirred the pot among the religious leadership and elite.
Again, we do not often associate said persons and actions with peace.
However, humanity has been taught, continues to teach, and far too often embraces a lie. It is the lie that all strife, all unrest, all conflict is unhealthy and destructive; thus, it must be avoided. This lie is the foundation for a dishonest and false peace.
This dishonest and false peace is embodied in the notion of Pax Romania, or Peace of Rome. This Peace of Rome was ensured through oppression and fear. This Peace of Rome was ensured through violent, military force at the mere murmur of unrest.
Dishonest peace avoids differences, disagreements, strife, and conflict at the expense of meaningful but uncomfortable conversations, necessary but challenging changes, and honest peace.
Dishonest peace maintains the status quo and its systematic injustices.
Dishonest peace protects the privileged and harms the under-privileged and vulnerable.
Dishonest peace affords opportunities to those with authority, power, wealth, and privilege at the expense of those without said authority, power, wealth, and privilege.
Dishonest peace creates ‘Peace-Keepers’, who discourage the ‘Good Trouble’ of John Lewis, the civil rights moment, and those who have and continue to prepare the way for the LORD seeking to level the mountains and valleys, smoothing the rough places through establishing sustainable equality and equity.
In the words of Martin Luther: “Peace when possible. Truth at all costs.”
Honest peace rejoices in the truth and prepares the way of the LORD.
Honest peace dispels unhealthy, devastating strife, unrest, and conflict through those honest meaningful but uncomfortable conversations.
Honest peace establishes the necessary but challenging changes that level the mountains and valleys, which continue to distinguish persons based on positions of authority and power, amount of accumulated wealth, social status, and privilege.
Honest peace encourages the ‘Good Trouble’ that continues to demand and establish sustainable equality and equity that smooths the rough places.
Martin Luther King Jr., spoke that the arc of history is long but always bends towards justice.
Honest peace is a force that bends the arc of human history towards said justice.
Honest peace is a force that prepares the way of the LORD through mountains and valleys leveled, rough places smoothed, and pot-holes filled.
John the Baptist was not a peace-keeper. John the Baptist was a peace-maker.
John the Baptist was creating honest peace, rather than maintaining a dishonest peace.
John the Baptist demonstrated that peace-making may include brutal honesty and being vocal, but hopefully with more tact.
May we, similar to John the Baptist, be peace-makers who are willing to make waves, rock the boat, and stir the pot for the sake of ‘Good Trouble’ establishing an honest peace upon all the earth for the sake of preparing the way for the LORD. Amen.
Scriptures were Isaiah 40: 1-11 and Mark 1: 1-8.
Originally preached on 13 Dec 2020 for Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).