As I have aged I have become more realistic about my hopes for Christmas.
Christians have been praying for world peace for two thousand years and Jews for thousands of years before them. Yet many days I wonder if we are any closer. When I read of the horrors of how prisoners and enemies were treated in Jesus’ time I like to believe that we have made some progress in how we treat one another. Then I see a preview for a popular movie and cringe at what we accept for entertainment.
Thus I no longer expect world peace at Christmas, instead I merely expect whirled peas. Peace on earth and good will to all would still be nice, but peas are more likely. Plus with a few herbs and other vegetables, peas can make a tasty and healthy meal.
The prophet Isaiah would have none of this. In the midst of losing a war with the Assyrians he pointed Israel beyond the trials and tribulations of beatings and captivity to world peace. Not merely the cessation of hostilities and vanquishing of enemies, but a harmonious state where even the worst of enemies could live side by side.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the kid;
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
— Isaiah 11:6 (NRSV)
Isaiah wants us to look beyond the reality of today, beyond what we might expect, to what God can do in us and through us. For if these animal enemies can live together what might we accomplish by seeking peace with our political enemies? How might we expect Christ’s coming into the world to save us all together?
I will have more to say about the 11th chapter of Isaiah on Sunday, December 4th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor