Act in love not hate
As I write this I am also preparing for Remembrance Sunday. As I do so I am particularly attracted by Isaiah 2:4, "God shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Those words of Isaiah are words of hope in the face of the horrors of warfare. But notice. It doesn't say that people will learn sense and turn away from war. It says that the only hope for an end to war lies not with our race, but with God. But faced with terrorist acts and war in Afghanistan all this sounds like nothing more than "pie in the sky," or like Christmas, a nice idea to keep the children happy. It could seem like that, but only if we knew nothing at all about God.
First, these words from Isaiah are about hope for the future. They set out God's plan for how it all will end. Second, they, like us at the moment, look forward to the coming of Jesus at Christmas. They look forward to Christmas because at Christmas we remember that God hasn't just left us to live with the mess we've made. We remember that God sent his Son right into the worst of it, right into our world of terrorism, warfare and violence. In Jesus we therefore have a way of putting this "pie in the sky" from Isaiah into practice. We can do that by acting in love not hate. We can be peacemakers between our neighbours. We can sooth tensions rather than gossiping about what so-and-so did and so fanning the flames. We can learn to forgive and find that forgiveness is the only way to peace. We can do all this, not because we are better than those who have gone before us, but because, through Jesus, with have the power of God working in us to make us strong enough and brave enough to seek peace.
We can even look beyond the tinsel of Christmas and ponder the words of the angels to the shepherds:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace." (Luke 2:14)
I wish you God's blessing, this Christmas time and always,
Revd Nigel Tufnell