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Advent Reflection – December 11th

December 11th, 2017 by Brian Pinter

December 11th

Brian Pinter

It is the day when we remind ourselves that man can and must live in peace with his neighbors and that it is the peacemakers who are truly blessed. In this year of 1962 we greet each other at Christmas with some special sense of the blessings of peace. This has been a year of peril when the peace has been sorely threatened. But it has been a year when peril was faced and when reason ruled. As a result, we may talk, at this Christmas, just a little bit more confidently of peace on earth, good will to men. As a result, the hopes of the American people are perhaps a little higher. We have much yet to do. We still need to ask that God bless everyone.– John F. Kennedy

By the end of 1962, President Kennedy understood in the marrow of his bones how blessed, how lucky, was the world.  A few months prior, he and his closest advisors—primarily his brother Bobby—had de-escalated the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event that very nearly brought the United States and the Soviet Union to nuclear Armageddon.  Against tremendous forces in his own government that were advocating for war, Kennedy had let reason prevail.  Seeing the absurdity of mutually assured destruction, the Kennedys used their wits, their grasp of history, their diplomatic and rhetorical skills, and the vocabulary of their Christian moral foundation to defuse the madness that was leading everyone into the abyss.

President Kennedy’s 1962 Christmas message takes another step forward, a step to a higher level of thinking.  Not only are we as Americans blessed in light of the crisis averted, he is saying, we are also called to be a blessing and to give blessing to all, including our enemies. In June of 1963, he gave a major speech at the American University in which he laid out a new vision for peace, calling for the curbing of nuclear weapons, acknowledging how much the Russian people had suffered during World War II and inviting his fellow Americans to reexamine our attitude toward our Cold War enemy.  It was an evolution from “God bless America” to “God bless all nations, even the ones we don’t like!”  As Christmas approaches, let’s ask ourselves how we as individuals, as a nation, as a world measure up to the ideals and role modeling Kennedy was offering on the question of war and peace.

Prayer: Jesus, in this time of Advent, instill in us a deep, heartfelt desire for peace, and give us the courage and resolve to make peace on earth our reality.

Brian Pinter

Brian Pinter serves as the Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ Church. He is also a certified Spiritual Director.