Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Peace On Earth
Every year we read the same words and sing the same songs, proclaiming the same idea. Don't get me wrong; I am not a scrooge. In fact, I feel myself fully embracing the season this year. I need the lights and the excitement, the planning and the parties. I love the regularity of it--and yet the fact that these words and notes and decorations have been packed away for a while. It's all fresh again.
I made a fascinating observation last week. I had been assisting with the Festival of Lights at the Washington, D.C. temple. It was an exciting--and slightly stressful--evening. I was assigned to greet guests at the door, including ambassadors, diplomats, dignitaries, and representatives from the White House, Congress, and other churches. I was nervous, especially after the whole White House State Dinner crashers the week before. I had to run through a list to check off names and prevent interlopers. I also had to welcome these people in out of a terrible rain storm, from horrible traffic out on the Beltway, and help them feel comfortable at the visitor's center. No pressure. As the event progressed, and the bulk of the guests had arrived, I relaxed enough to listen to the program and observe the tired, anxious faces of the people. For the closing song, the choir sang the familiar "Let There be Peace on Earth," which, although not a Christmas song, presented a very clear, powerful message to a room full of international representatives and policy-makers.
All of a sudden, I got the message. This idea of angels proclaiming "Peace on earth" is very real. And we repeat it every year--even in a world raging with wars and strife and contention all around. But we work for it. We meet together to try to come to a common understanding, across racial and geographical and cultural and class divides. We seek escape and deliverance from each other and for each other.
But we also have to--we get to--repeat the same message and same songs. Year after year. And although not all in that room were members of my Church--not all were even Christian--we all, every one there, want peace. We share that one hope. And we keep trying, year after year.
Thank goodness for multiple opportunities. Thank goodness that peace can be a daily affair. And thank goodness for the realization that instead of waiting for it, it must begin with me.
This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again. Howard W. Hunter