When we imagine peace this time of year, we may imagine calm and quiet nights. If we really stretch our imaginations, we can create visions of clean white snow that dampens the noise and chaos around us. Generally, the word "peace" conjures ideas of order, stillness, and amicable relations. During Advent, we emphasize that Christ is the Prince of Peace. We have expectations of what the peace of Christ will look like and they may look like our usual visions of peace. Yet, those expectations maybe limited. The scriptures before Christ’s birth and baptism are lively, loud, and almost chaotic. If this is what Jesus' birth is like, will Christ’s peace only be found in the calm and the quiet?
Imagine the scene that Matthew describes of John the Baptist baptizing new believers and waiting for Jesus Christ. Here is a wild looking man who eats locusts. He is in the river baptizing people, which is not as graceful as baptisms at a font. Then he begins yelling at approaching potential believers about God’s promise fulfilled. This is the man announcing that Christ is coming and all people should repent. In Isaiah chapter 11, the prophet describes images that would create visceral reactions from anyone who would see them. Imagine seeing a lion eat straw, it seems out of order and unnatural. Any adult, seeing an infant near the nest of a venomous snake would feel the pit of their stomach drop and a rush of adrenaline to rescue the child. These are the precursors to the peace that Christ brings to the world: a wild man yelling in the river, a vegetarian lion, and a child protected from any harm. If this is our prelude to peace, we can suspect that Christ’s peace can be loud, active and dynamic. When we find peace in the quiet times, we can find Christ. Yet, let us not forget to see the peace in the activity of God’s world.