Rev. Dr. Loraine Mackenzie Shepherd, Westworth United Church, December 1, 2013
Isaiah 2:4; Rom 13:11-14
Advent: a time of waiting and expectation of an imminent arrival; a time of quiet contemplation and preparation for the Holy Child.
Advent: a time of increasing stress and unrealistic expectations; a time filled with excess of people and malls, of hurry and time short, of feasting without pause, of temper quickened and frustration high.
Isn’t it strange how the time of advent has become the opposite of its intent? Our reading from Romans suggests that we set aside our self-centered quarrelling and over-indulgence. Instead, we are to quest for relation-centered respect. Our reading from Isaiah offers an incredible vision of reconciliation, where weapons of war are turned into utensils of food; where soldiers become farmers and nations do not learn war any more.
Isaiah’s fanciful dream actually became a reality in Costa Rica in 1948, just after a civil war, which was just on the heals of WWII. The country realized that its army had become a convenient source of weapons that had been turned against its own citizens so it decided to disband its army. They built a monument of peace, called the Destruction of the Arms, out of some of the army’s weapons. The country retained the tax level, that had supported its army, to contribute to policing, culture, universal health care and universal education. It’s an incredible feat that some would call naïve, but there has been peace in the country ever since and it now enjoys a high standard of living. it is an amazing story of weapons turned into ploughshares.
Now let’s step a little more closely to home. What weapons of war do we use in our own families, and how could these be turned into tools of peace?