I've been reading Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan's "The First Christmas". The last two Sundays I have drawn on what I've learned in my preaching.
The central message of the book seems to be the way the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke announce the contrast between the Pax Romana and the Peace of God - a tension that climaxes in the passion narratives in the gospels.
The contrast between peace through conquest and peace through justice couldn't be more current or persistent.
One little paragraph in the book really caught my imagination. The gist of it is that the peace of the Roman Empire and its successors would culminate in The Great Final Battle. But the telos of peace won through non-violence is The Great Final Feast. I've been living with the latter image - that the end of all our peace seeking is The Big Meal, where all are gathered around the table, and all have enough.
This sustains me and inspires me when the world news is so discouraging, and I despair over the distance between the Pax Americana and the Christian vision of peace.