2019 Advent Devotional: Wed, 12/4

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Scripture: Isaiah 2:2-4

This passage resonates. I remember inspiration from Pete Seeger singing “Ain’t gonna study war no more” in the early 1970’s. I remember admiration for the Plowshares Eight who were jailed over nuclear weapons protests in 1980 (such small acts, but far-reaching in resonance). I recall the pain of a militaristic prayer at the church I attended in Connecticut in 1991. There was a candle for peace in our window in 2003. There is endless dismay over mass shootings and other gun violence. Just this week, the passage resounded again in a Remembrance Day photo of poppies from World War I battle fields, sent out by the UMC News Service, captioned with Isaiah 2:4: ‘Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war.’

Isaiah links the Lord’s Mountain – the vision of peace, the end of war we all long for – with a prophetic cry for justice. In Isaiah 1:17, he calls on us to “seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” This verse resonates too, with dismay over poverty and oppression in our broken world, wondering what I can do. To Isaiah’s prophetic words I would add another call from present day prophets – for creation justice – the urgent need to take action to protect the planet and all the miraculous life forms that share it. Wondering again, what can I do?

Isaiah’s vision expresses such deep longing for peace and justice, and our world falls so disastrously short. But perhaps the longing is a place to start – perhaps it’s an opening. That’s what Advent is about, isn’t it? That deep longing for peace and justice, and the hope that with God’s grace, our small acts can help bring them about.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the vision, the longing, and the hope. Give us the courage to act for peace and justice, with the hope that our small acts will resonate with Isaiah’s beautiful vision. Amen.

~Jana Milford