November 23, 2010

Nov. 23: An unexpected peace

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By Jim Brenneman, president
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 2:1-5 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, declared, “All things come to pass and perish through strife.” Much later, Thomas Jefferson seemed to agree. “The tree of liberty,” he proclaimed, “must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Are we destined to such self-fulfilling prophecies of warfare and violence? Is humanity simply bound by fate to be what Oliver Stone’s movie title suggests, Natural Born Killers?

Against the tide of such political and cultural philosophies, along comes Advent each year to remind us that time and space bend to God’s imaginative alternatives. Isaiah prophesies of an “unexpected hour,” a day when the nations of the world will voluntarily “flow up” the mountain of the Lord, and there under the tutelage of Rabbi God, will submit their differences for mediation. In the end, they will agree to melt down their weapons of war into implements of agriculture and board up their various war colleges forever.

Elsewhere, Isaiah foresees the first Advent as a foretaste of the final Advent, “For unto us a child is born . . .He shall be called the Prince of Peace . . . His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace” (Isa. 9:6-7a). At the birth of Jesus, the multitude of angels concurred, “glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!” (Luke 2:14). Is it too much, then, to imagine that the prophetic vision of Isaiah in today’s Advent lesson is more than a distant possibility? Let us devote our hopes, our dreams, our wills and our lives to making this prophecy come true to the blessing of the whole world.

Prayer

Lord, may the Advent vision of Isaiah come to pass today in our lives, in our homes, in our world. May we find ways to come to God, to learn to mediate our differences, to transform our violent instincts into peaceful practices. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 2:1-5 (NRSV)

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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Comments (4)

  1. Thanks, Jim, for your thoughtful, insightful, inspiring meditation for this day.

    Stuart W. Showalter November 23, 2010 |
  2. Thank you for the quote from Jefferson during the Advent Season. It brought to mind the French Revolution and the desire for liberty contrasted with the Biblical dreams of liberation and of peace. It is wonderful to dream of peace for our too often broken and enslaved humankind.

    Margie West November 23, 2010 |
  3. Thank you for the bright Star in the darknesses of today. Truly, the Thomas Jefferson quote is and has been used today which makes your words meaningful I don’t find TJ comforting, but the idea of a new Baby is.

    sally November 23, 2010 |
  4. It just jumped out at me that it is not God who becomes the blacksmith, turning spears into pruning hooks. The people are moved enough by what God has taught, to move from warrior to blacksmith to farmer.

    Janee November 23, 2010 |