from the pastor

December 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

            Though the weapons of his time were less sophisticated, the prophet Isaiah lived in an age that was every bit as violent as our own.  But the people of God yearned for peace, and they held in their hearts the dream of a better world, one in which true peace—shalom—reigned. The prophet records in Isaiah 2: 1-5 that he saw the word of the Lord; we might describe the event as a vision. It was a vision of a future shaped by God’s grace in fulfillment of God’s promises. Mount Zion, the hill on which Solomon had built the Temple, now towered over the other mountains of the world, the sun bursting forth behind it in spectacular radiance.

            Streaming toward the mountain were peoples from all the nations of the world who were coming to seek wisdom and to learn and be transformed. Everyone, Jew and Gentile alike came to receive instruction so that they could walk in the ways of the Lord God. There was no conflict, no fighting, no warfare; differences were resolved by divine arbitration. And without conflict, there was no need for the weapons of war; they could be recycled and turned into harmless agricultural implements. “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: 4

            God's chosen people were finally fulfilling their God-given mission to be a light to the nations, an example to all people of how God wants us to live. Sin was vanquished in this new age; justice and righteousness and loving-kindness reigned everywhere. Isaiah concludes this vision with an invitation—an invitation for the people of Judah as well as an invitation for you and me. "O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!" God invites us to take part in realizing God’s grand vision of peace.

             In this season of celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace, all Christians are challenged to be peacemakers in whatever setting they find themselves.  Jesus reminds us that it is the peacemakers who will be called the children of God.  Matthew 5: 9  Rather than feeding off the fear and anger that fills the world around us, Christians must rise to a higher calling, a calling to build bridges instead of fences, to engage humbly in conversations that transcend division, and to bring reconciliation and healing where there is guilt and pain.  The best way to honor Christmas is to join in God’s activity of peacemaking.

Grace and peace,