Peace on Earth

Earlier this month, photo editors at the New York Times began going through roughly 5.6 Million images in order to represent the news events of the past year. The images are a testament to a mere fraction of the conflicts and triumphs from the past 360 days. Surely the review of 2019 will be filled with scenes of conflicts. Climate Change activists staged demonstrations around the world. Massive protests against governments including the yellow vests in France and students in Hong Kong took to the streets. The terrorist attack in Christchurch and the Easter Sunday suicide bombing in Colombo. Brexit, Impeachment, the conflict in Syria continued relentlessly and there was the heart breaking photograph of Alberto Ramirez with his 23 month old daughter face down on the shore of the Rio Grande while on the run seeking hope...

Christmas Light

Upsetting, isn’t it? Well, I’m sorry if I just burned out your Christmas light. These images don’t really belong to the spirit of a Merry Christmas, do they? The news of violence is definitely not a part of the message of peace on earth and goodwill to men. On Christmas morning the Pope and all the Bishops proclaim peace in their homilies and call upon the battling nations to end their wars.

The prophet Isaiah professed the coming of a child, born to us – given to us: a great light for those who walked in darkness. His name will be Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince of Peace and his kingdom will be great and forever peaceful. In his Gospel, Luke (Luke 2:1-14) writes that an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the fields proclaiming good news of a savior with peace to those on whom his favor rests. This is our Christmas message my friends, doesn’t it sound a little naive and idealistic? The song of the angels and trumpets from heaven seem like a whistle in the wind, which no one hears or cares to hear.  We have been announcing this Christmas message all over the world for over two thousand years but I don’t think we are any closer to peace than we were then, in fact I sometimes wonder if we are going in the opposite direction.

There Is Hope

There is hope however in the choir of the many political and theological thoughts and deliberations which call for an end to the wars and conflicts and suffering. It is an important voice for the message of Christmas. Just like a seed that falls on fertile soil, it can break hardened hearts and narrow-minded thinking and even break through the walls of hatred that lead to peace. Unfortunately, the door to peace is not an easy one to open. Peace begins when we reconcile ourselves with God and each other. The door begins to open when we do the inner work by reflecting on who we are and where we are going. That is what the Season of Advent is all about. The four weeks prepare us to meet the face of God in Jesus. “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is the Messiah and Lord.” And that child in the stall, lying in the manager is the Son of God. God who became man – God who became one of us! And ever since then God has wanted to encounter us. When we can fully grasp what this means it can bring a whole new perspective on our view of mankind. In simply knowing that God lives and moves in all of us, we can begin to look at each other with different eyes. The first thing I see is not the foreigner sitting across from me on the bus. It’s not the Muslim I pass on the street, it’s not the unfriendly sales clerk who doesn’t greet me in the store – the first thing I see, or what I must learn to see – is the image of God that lives in that person; A person who is called into life by God and is loved by God. Just this one small perspective, my friends, can bring peace within ourselves and toward each other and the entire world.

His Image

God created man in his own image and every person is a human being first before they are a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or an atheist. Every person is a foreigner when they visit another country. Everyone is a person of color. Every person is loved by God, whether they are homosexual, heterosexual, gender neutral, addicted to drugs or alcohol, live on the streets or in a mansion by the sea.  Being a human, an individual regardless of nationality, culture, religion or lifestyle, is what connects the people of this world.

About five years ago, this wonderful sign of unity was recognized here in Switzerland by the opening of the “House of Religions” in Bern. Eight major religions unite under one roof; each with their own space for liturgical and religious celebrations and rituals. And in the center of the house is a meeting point, where people have a chance to meet each other, and discuss their cultures and religions. Those who gathered at the scene of the Nativity expressed exactly that. They journeyed from far and near, the poor and simple shepherd’s, the rich, noble Kings from the east. They stood before the newborn king.  This path to the manger (mäinscher) brings people together from all over, transcending what divides them in a beautiful expression of kindness, love and peace. This is our invitation to do the same this day and every day.


My dear friends, let us take this message and use it as a key to open the door to peace in order to break through the walls of hatred so that we can reconcile with our brothers and sisters and all mankind. Use this image of the nativity, not as a utopian or abstract view of the world, but as good news of great joy so that the peace on the earth among us people can become reality.