Swords Into Plowshares
Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forbears heard
is the promise that holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.
As we make our way into the home stretch of Advent, I can’t help but feel like I’ve only finally gotten “into it” only to have it end in about a week. But, as our message this Advent has so beautifully demonstrated, the world keeps on turning. Our musical theme from The Canticle of the Turning this week focuses on some very war-like themes: deliverance from conquerors, spears and rods being crushed by God…it’s all somewhat violent.
However, I think about what was going on at the time of Jesus’ birth and I think it helps to clarify some of the language for me: the Jewish people were under the rule of the Roman Empire. They were marginalized and oppressed, and searching for someone to deliver them out of the hands of their oppressors. War, violence, and corruption were commonplace in this time. (And sadly, they aren’t totally uncommon in our time, either.) People were looking to be set free from their chains, and they were looking for someone, a messiah, to come and liberate them.
Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, God has an amazing capacity to exceed and confound our expectations. People were anticipating some type of coming royalty. What people were looking for at that time was a political leader–someone who would have the legitimate power of a monarch or a president who could set them free. What they weren’t expecting was that this leader wasn’t going to set people free politically, but set people free spiritually. As a people we are now free from the chains of sin and death. What people got was God turning the world once more.
God turned the idea of power on its head at that very moment. The things that were important in this world: wealth, power, status, influence, etc. were no longer what should be focused on, but instead we must focus on the things that are truly eternal in nature. God took our swords and turned them into plowshares. What was once meant for harm can now bring forth life. And with these crushed swords, our challenge is to cultivate and grow the kin-dom of God, right here on Earth.
We invite you to join us at Church of the Village this coming Sunday, December 22nd for our final Advent service and Christmas Sunday Celebration. This Sunday we will feature special musical offerings including trumpet, harp, and strings. Be sure to arrive early as the Harp Prelude will begin at 10:20 am.
On Tuesday, December 24th at 6:30 pm we will also host a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service combined with the congregation of Japanese American United Church. Join us for both reflective and celebratory worship including bilingual hymns, prayers, and a candlelit Silent Night.