First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Inspired by Isaiah 2:1-5

“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 anymore.”  Isaiah 2:3-4 (NRSV)

Conventional wisdom has it that peace can only be ensured by a mighty army.  If we’re powerful enough no one would dare attack us, and we can impose our will upon those weaker than us.  We imagine that our military might gives us intellectual and cultural superiority over those we can conquer, and we endeavor to order the world in a way that ensures our own peace and prosperity, unaware or uncaring of the effect of our actions on others.

This is not God’s idea of peace.

In God’s highest ideal, weapons of war would be useless.  Their value would only be in the raw materials used to make them, and they would be melted down and reworked into tools for creating food and providing jobs.  Nations would not need to study warcraft, because such knowledge would serve no purpose.  Every nation would live in the peace that comes from a free and just world.  One nation’s freedoms would not infringe upon another’s, and no government or society would seek to impose its will upon another.  Every individual residing in every nation would be treated with dignity and respect, and God would be the recognized sovereign Lord over all.

This is not the world we live in, but this is the world we’re called to work towards.  Recognize God as your Lord, learn his ways and walk in his paths.  Seek not to conquer your enemy, but recognize your enemy as your fellow citizen, and work to bring peace and freedom to all.  Do this using the tools of love and mercy, for they are far more effective than swords or missiles.

Let us pray.  God of peace, you desire all your people to live free from injustice.  Encourage us to work according to your will, that we may help to make the world the place of peace and justice that you envision.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.