The invitation bears our name

Saturday

Isaiah 2

Wedding

Wedding (Photo credit: 蓝上弦)

4they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;

It is not only about the warring of nations.  It is about the warring of families, the warring of political parties, the warring of ideologies, the warring of our own hearts.  There is no want of conflicts in the world.  Some make their way into the evening news.  Some are witnessed in the halls of schools and offices.  Some are tragically compelling.  Most are hidden.

And we use tools.  Weapons.  Guns.  Knives.  Dishes.  Words.  Words are often the worst, wounds that do not heal.  Weapons get turned upon ourselves.  I have buried both young and old from gun violence, both self-inflicted and not.

The United States spent $682.7 billion on the military in 2010, $2,200 for every man, woman and child.  Plus the blood of citizens.  And the blood of innocents.  I would not argue we do not need military.  I am only pointing out the sorrow of the human race.  Willingly or unwillingly, we spend our labor on tools to injure and kill.

It shall not last.

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;

It shall not last, this constant warfare.  It does not endure.  It is not eternal, our brokenness.  The ruptures of communities.  Ethnic hatreds.  Torn families.  Conflicted souls.  It shall not last.

Not because peace finally comes with death, but because death itself is defeated.  This marauding power with its grip on human joy and life, this thief in the night, this storm of violence, this caustic agent corroding life’s purpose, turning day to night for far too many – this invader in God’s good world has been defeated and will be silenced forever.  Death, and fear of death, and grief and sorrow, and guilt and regret – the whole corrosive reality born of our desire to be gods rather than let God be God – it has all been shattered by the hand of God reaching into the tomb of Jesus.

God took death upon himself and shattered death forever.  And with death, all that is tied to death – disease and fear and shame and sorrow, injustice and poverty, war and violence.  It is all defeated.  It is all undone.  It is all revealed as an imposter in God’s kingdom, a usurper claiming God’s throne.  It shall not last.

Swords shall be beaten into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks.  We will make tractors from our tanks.  Jungle gyms. Swing sets.  Rakes and hoes for the home garden.  Brass rings from brass casings to be used on the merry-go-round.  Poetry and song from the words once hurled in anger, prejudice and fear.  Stories that heal and bind up from words uttered callously or in shear stupidity.  The weeping of the wounded and grieving shall give way to the tears of joy at the wedding that has no end.  “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Advent looks to the future with hope.  It does not surrender to cynicism.  It does not yield to despair over the human condition, nor to hardness of heart.  It waits and watches for the wedding of heaven and earth.  It bids us see the wedding invitation bears our name.  It urges us to announce our RSVP.  And it invites us to put on the wedding garments of compassion and grace even now as we wait for the feast to begin in full.

2In 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.
3Many 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.
4He 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.
5O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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