We have been the promise that in the days to come, our future will contradict our present, that one day, all nations will stream to the Lord’s House and be ready, be willing to listen, to hear, to be taught, to be immersed in God’s way of love and grace, that one day, power and might, greed and money will not be the narrative which drives all interactions between the nations of the world.
December 10, 2023
It’s A Wonderful Life
Find Peace In It!
Isaiah 2: 1-5
Rev. Dr. Heather W. McColl
Isaiah 2: 1-5
This is what Isaiah, Amoz’s son, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of the mountains. It will be lifted above the hills; peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the house of Jacob’s God so that God may teach us God’s ways and we may walk in God’s paths.” Instruction will come from Zion; the Lord’s word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations, and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. Come, house of Jacob, let’s walk by the Lord’s light.
Find Peace in It! Isaiah 2: 1-5
Another Peace Sunday follows more mass shootings, this time, one in Texas and the other at UNLV. Another Peace Sunday follows the news of weapons of war being used to hurt people. Another Peace Sunday and again I am standing in the pulpit at Midway Christian Church, sharing this vision from Isaiah, a vision which calls the people of God to study war no more, which calls for instruments of war to be turned into instruments for living. Another Peace Sunday, and again I am wondering when will the promises of God’s Shalom will come to fruition here on Earth just as it is in Heaven.
This vision from Isaiah begins with the promise of “In the days to come”. I imagine this is in response to the people’s cries, to our cries still today, of “How Long, O God?” As people of faith, as we hear Isaiah’s vision again on another Peace Sunday, we realize we are never given a certain date, a certain time. We are never given any details to predict, to manipulate, to control exactly when God’s Shalom will come to fruition here on Earth. Instead, we are given a promise that in the days to come, our future will contradict our present, that one day, all nations will stream to the Lord’s House and be ready, be willing to listen, to hear, to be taught, to be immersed in God’s way of love and grace, that one day, power and might, greed and money will not be the narrative which drives all interactions between the nations of the world.
Or let me say it this way…I invite us to watch a particular beloved scene in It’s a Wonderful Life. Let me set the scene for all of us, George’s father has passed away. And because of that, George has put off his trip to Europe. After several weeks, he is preparing to go to college. But he has to take care of one last thing before he goes…that thing being a vote by the Board to determine the fate of the old Building and Loan… (watch video clip)
Another Peace Sunday, and like George Bailey, I find myself to be a reluctant prophet. What I mean by this is that I am realizing and yes coming to terms with the fact that as people of faith, we live in an imperfect world. We have this vision of God’s Shalom where the lion lays down with the lamb yet wars are happening all around our world. And yes, whether we like to admit it or not, as people of faith we have contributed to the lack of peace in our world because we often fall short of our call to love one another. We fall short for one simple reason…that reason being, that we often take the easy way out, the comfortable way out. In the movie, for George, it would have been easy to ignore what’s happening in the Board room and get on that train so that he could do what he wanted for a change. For us, it is easy to make excuses and pretend that what is happening in a land halfway around the world does not affect us. Yet, Isaiah reminds us, and yes even George Bailey reminds us that as people of faith, we are called to be prophets, to speak out against the injustices we see and those we don’t experience in our own lives because of privilege. As people of faith, when God asks whom shall I send? Whom shall I send to bring healing and wholeness to all of God’s people? Whom shall I send to bring the light of God near? Whom shall I shall I send to speak God’s word of justice and grace? We are called to respond with Here I Am, Lord. On this Peace Sunday, we can no longer be reluctant prophets
Like Isaiah and yes like George Bailey, as people of faith, we have been given this vision of God’s Shalom to remind us, to strengthen us, to inspire us, to guide us in the ways of God’s teacherings because we know as people of faith, no matter how bleak the circumstances seem, things can and will get better. Not because of who we are but because of who God is.
You see, that’s the part of Isaiah’s vision we tend to ignore and forget. Isaiah clearly says “For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples” UltimatelyIsaiah reminds us that God is God and we are not. Because let’s face it after more than two thousand years, two World Wars, one which was supposed to be the War to end all Wars, we as humankind still haven’t got it right.
However, like Isaiah, and like George Bailey, on this Peace Sunday, and every Peace Sunday, and the days to come, as people of faith, we cannot walk away. We cannot go on with our lives and pretend that what happens in communities, what happens in our state, what happens in our nation and in our world does not affect us. Because…if we take nothing else from this Peace Sunday, please hear this… [al]though God’s Beloved Community, God’s Shalom is not ours to make, IT is ours to practice. Because War is over if we want it. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, December 10, 2023 – Find Peace in It! Isaiah 2: 1-5.
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