My peace rose has just started to bloom. It is one of my favourite roses and its fragrance one of the delights of my summer garden. My appreciation of its beauty grew when I discovered that it was developed during World War II, by a family of French rose breeders. The rose was actually smuggled out of France by the French Resistance to hide its discovery from the invading Nazi forces. For this family and the people that fought with them, the rose symbolized their hope for the future. They dreamed of a day when their land would once more be free and live at peace. By “coincidence” – one of those amazing coincidences that are only orchestrated by God, the official launching of the Peace rose coincided with the day that peace was declared at the end of the War.
The beautiful form and fragrance of my peace rose is a symbol of my own hope for the future and God’s dream for an eternal world of peace and shalom. It is a reminder that fortunately for us, God did not give up on the dream of a peaceable shalom community either. Nor did God lose hope and give up on humanity when we unleashed the anti-shalom forces that have been so destructive to our communities and our world. God was not satisfied with some small pockets of resistance either. God’s grand shalom mission is an all embracing mission – to reverse the damage done at the Fall and create a new community knit together in love and harmony. Just as God began with a shalom world, so God intends to finish with a shalom world. Anthropologist Paul Hiebert contended that
“God’s ultimate goal is shalom not victory in some great cosmic battle – God’s final plan is an eternity of fellowship with God, with one another and with God’s good creation, characterized by love, joy, peace and unity.”
For me, the word shalom is a little like the peace rose. It symbolizes God’s resistance forces who are expected to stand against the divisions, hostility, oppression and domination released by the Fall. These are God’s kingdom people called to bring glimpses of justice and peace and joy into our war torn world. Brueggemann explains that the term shalom “bears tremendous freight – the freight of a dream of God that resists all our tendencies to division, hostility, fear, drivenness and misery.”
And the dream of shalom we are looking forward to is a
“creation time when all God’s creation eases up on hostility and destruction and finds another way of relating. No wonder creation culminates in the peace and joy of Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-4) when all lie down and none make us afraid.” (Bruggemann)
Throughout human history, from the time that humanity was excluded from the Garden of Eden and separated from each other by the confusion of languages that occurred at Babel, God has been at work restoring, renewing and making whole. What a wonderful vision to inspire our faith and direct our lives. God’s desire is the restoration of shalom – all things once again living in the wholeness and harmony of God’s original creation.