Some Sunday Stuff: Fourth Week of Advent, 2021.

It’s the last Sunday of Advent, ya’ll! Saturday is Christmas! Almost to the EndGame (but with no Thanos this time)! Well, for those who follow the Liturgical Calendar, it’s not quite a wrap, but I digress. Let’s get right to the Bible Project video:

“Peace is not just the absence of conflict; true peace requires taking what’s broken and restoring it to wholeness, whether it’s in our lives, our relationships, or in our world.” So powerful. Those words made me think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had quite a bit to say on the topic. I know I’m a month early on the King quotes, but it fits. First, I want to go to an outline (in rough form) of a sermon he delivered in March 1956 in which he discussed “obnoxious” peace:

Autherine Lucy Foster (photo via

A few weeks ago, a federal judge handed down an edict which stated in substance that the university of Alabama could no longer deny admission to persons because of their race. With the handing down of this decision, a brave young lady by the name of Autherine Lucy was accepted as the first Negro student to be admitted in the history of the university of Alabama. This was a great moment and a great decision. But with the announcement of this decision, the vanguards of the old order began to emerge. The forces of evil began to congeal. As soon as Autherine Lucy walked on the campus, a group of spoiled students lead by Leonard Wilson and a vicious group of criminals began threatening her on every hand.4 Crosses were burned. Eggs and bricks were thrown at her. The mob even jumped on top of the car in which she was riding. Finally the president and trustees of the university of Alabama asked Autherine to leave for her own safety and the safety of the university. The next day after Autherine was dismissed the paper came out with this headline: “Things are quiet in Tuscaloosa today. There is peace on the campus of the university of Alabama.”5 Yes things were quiet in Tuscaloosa. yes there was peace on the campus, but it was peace at a great price. It was peace that had been purchased at the exorbitant price of an inept trustee board succoming to the whims and carprices of a vicious mob. It was peace that had been purchased at the price of allowing mobocracy to reign supreme over democracy. It was peace that had been purchased at the price of the capitulating to the forces of darkness. This is the type of peace that all men of goodwill hate. It is the type of peace that is obnoxious. It is the type of peace that stinks in the nostrils of the almighty God.

The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948 – March 1963

King went on to make clear he was not advocating for violence or a physical war, but a spiritual one.

It is a war of ideas. Every true Christian is a fighting passifist. In a very profound passage, which has been often misunderstood, Jesus utters this. He says “Think not that I am come to bring peace. I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” {Mt 10:34-36} Certainly he is not saying that he comes not to bring peace in the higher sense. What he is saying is: “I come not to bring this peace of escapism, this peace that fails to confront the real issues of life, the peace that makes for stagnant complacency.” Then he says, I come to bring a sword—not a physical sword. Whenever I come a conflict is precipitated between the old and the new, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. “I come to declare war on evil. I come to declare war on injustice

The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948 – March 1963
MLK’s Mugshots (Source)

In the eminent “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” written in April 1963 to White moderates, MLK further expounded on peace:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice

Letter From Birmingham Jail, emphasis mine

Peace, especially at this time of year, is usually depicted as being silent, or quiet. It’s calm and the sweet Baby Jesus sleeping atop hay in a manger. It is “Silent Night” come to life; it’s the sound of snow falling, and maybe it’s just a tad staid. But that’s not the peace that King fought for, and it certainly isn’t the peace the King of Kings taught us to live out. Real peace -like real hope, real love, and real joy– demands action. As we go about this final week of Advent, let us look to “make whole” the spaces in our lives that have frayed, in our world, our families, and in ourselves.

1 Comment

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Joseph Flemmingreply
December 19, 2021 at 7:06 pm

Great post! I have been meditating a lot on peace as of late. On peace and of peaceful objection; on justice and equity over the status quo and complacency; and how to move through spaces of opposition while keeping dignity, compassion and the grace and peace of Christ centered in my thoughts and my mouth. Lots of food for thought thanks!

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