Thursday November 11, 2021
The Twelve Days of COPmas: Day 11 – The gift of peace
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
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;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
for ever and ever.
Here is the great gift, as we mark Armistice Day and the penultimate day of COP26 – the gift of peace, SHALOM: a peace that is not simply an absence of war and conflict, but a renewing of life itself, with justice, harmony, wisdom and joy. It is the peace that was Jesus’ parting gift – a peace the world cannot give.
Here in the Book of Micah, the vision of peace and justice includes all peoples and creation itself. It seems that even the earth will move to raise up the mountain of the Lord’s house above all other hills and mountains. The geological consequences of a mountain higher than Everest at Jerusalem are difficult to get our minds around, but the prophet’s poetic words tell of a new creation, that includes not just one nation but all nations, and not just humanity but the whole natural world as well.
How might that vision translate into the messy realities of the end of a political conference, with all the back-room negotiations, political gaming and competitive games that will have been involved? We pray that new steps will have been made by now in responding to the climate emergency that faces all nations and the planet itself. Perhaps the vision of spears being beaten into pruning hooks could be a real inspiration to humanity today. It is a kind of glorious recycling – the stuff of warfare used in new creative ways to tend the earth and its plant-life.
We know that in wartime there have been major scientific breakthroughs to serve the cause or respond to its terrible consequences. Imagine that same energy, commitment and expertise harnessed globally to the work of saving the planet, combating climate change and protecting biodiversity. Imagine fear put to one side, as people in all their diversity work together, enabling all humanity to sit in peace and the natural world to breathe easy; fear cast out for ever.
God of high mountains, fruitful vines and fig trees,
as we give thanks for the natural world in all its beauty,
renew your peace within us and your world:
peace with justice for all,
peace for people and planet alike.
Teach us to walk your way now and always
in the life-giving name of Jesus Christ.