Hope: Visions of Peace

Isaiah 2:1-5

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 ploughshares,
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!

Just thinking some more the first Sunday of Advent…Some from the sermon: Acknowledgment of our lack and emptiness is part of the Advent experience – “Advent, as we know, is a time of hope and longing, but also a time of repentance. Isaiah reminds Israel (and us) that we can’t appreciate the promise without hearing the judgment. If there is no need, there is nothing for which to hope,” (Fred Gaiser, Luther Seminary Professor). Now I am not one that feels comfortable preaching judgment – I don’t like the feeling of saying, “Look at your sins, look at the ways you have screwed up – you are a horrible person.” But, I remember – this kind of judgment is not God’s judgment. It’s the way we judge others, and even ourselves. But, God’s judgment is God’s grace, and it doesn’t point out flaws and imperfections. Instead, it inspires us with a beautiful vision of who and what we would be if we lived on God’s mountain. And that’s where repentance happens – the messy work of repentance – looking inward, being honest about our need for God’s help, and turning around.

Being needy is not a terrible thing…I think I feel more prone to looking at it negatively for various cultural reasons – it seems like there’s a stigma associated with it – but being needy is part of being human, and what makes the human experience lovely…a reminder that God is still God and gives us free will and the ability to make choices, and yes, sometimes – a lot of times – that turns out horribly, but the overarching and underlying reality of God’s persistent love is all the more that mind-blowing to me.

I love what Kate Huey – UCC Minister says: “We hear this story not only in a time of conflict and war but in a new season at the beginning of a new church year: Advent, the time of waiting, and so much more. Walter Brueggemann writes, ‘Advent is an abrupt disruption in our ordinary time…an utterly new year, new time, new life. Everything begins again…’ While the world around us wraps up another year hoping for increased consumer spending and waiting for annual reports on profits, the church has already stepped into a new time, to begin a season of hoping and waiting for something of much greater significance than profits or spending: ‘Advent invites us to awaken from our numbed endurance and our domesticated expectations, to consider our life afresh in light of new gifts that God is about to give us.'”

The vision of peace in Isaiah gives me hope…More Advent thoughts later…