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A Vision of Future Peace in the Present
Preparing for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: One Day before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 119:105-112
Old Testament: Isaiah 2:1-4
Gospel: John 12:44-50
Psalter: Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Gospel: John 12:44-50
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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 (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Anyone familiar with the prophets of the Old Testament know they envision a time when violence and war will have ended. In Isaiah chapter 2, we read familiar words.
God shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many people’s. 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.
I have often wondered whether God’s people today are committed to that future vision? We like to say that since this vision is of a future time, it is unrealistic to expect that kind of peace to be accomplished in the here and now. Such a lasting peace will only take place when Christ returns and makes it a reality.
That may be true; but it seems to me from the ministry of Jesus that he expected his followers to seek that peace in the present time. The church has been called to the church to the ministry of reconciliation, but I have to be honest and say that in my experience, reconciliation is low on our priority list. The church isn’t working real hard at promoting that kind of peace.
I struggle to understand the logic that because something cannot be achieved in the present, that means we don’t have to work hard toward it. There are plenty of other worthy causes human beings pursue, knowing they won’t achieve its end in their lifetime. Researchers work hard to cure cancer even though they know there likely will be no cure in their lifetime nor their children’s and grandchildren’s lifetime. They don’t give up their research using the excuse that the cure is not within sight. We all know that poverty will not be eradicated in our lifetime nor even in the near future; yet we still think it’s a good idea to fight poverty where we can.
The point I’m making here is that the prophets envision a time of peace and reconciliation to come. It is clear from Scripture that God is in the business of reconciliation and that the followers of Jesus Christ are called to be reconcilers and to bring the message of reconciliation to this world. It is a rejection of our mission to put so much emphasis on the difficulty of achieving peace that we fail to work toward it, knowing that in our age it remains elusive.
There’s an old song that we sing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Just because I am unable to achieve the kind of peace the prophets envision does not mean that I can forego my responsibilities to be a peacemaker in this world. The swords have yet to be beaten into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks, but in every place I can bend a sword toward the ground making a furrow, and where every spear can be wielded to prune the fruit trees, I must act. For I am a follower of the Prince of Peace; and I must seek peace in the here and now.
PRAYER: Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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