"He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore."
The above stained glass window at St. David's is one of my least favorites. Don't get me wrong, I love the colors ... and the accents and textures in the glass ... and the way the sword can seem to glow on a sunny day. I'm just not a big fan of highlighting a weapon of violence in church. To me, it seems kind of contrary to the message of the one we call the "Prince of Peace." However, the window also calls to mind for me images from Scripture of the in-breaking of God's Kingdom into our world - that time when people beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks ... that time when there is not only an end to war and violence, but also a time when all those evil forces in this world that tear at our lives … and divide us … and rip apart our social fabric are overcome.
And I believe, everyone once and awhile, we get glimpses of this “in-breaking of God’s Kingdom.” For example, I believe we saw it on September 12, 2001, as we came together as a nation and world after one of the most terrible days in our history. Covered in the dust of the Twin Towers, it didn’t matter what color or age or political persuasion you were, we were one … and we worked together … and helped each other … and we saw that the things that unite us are far deeper and stronger than the things that divide us.
Likewise, I think we’re in the midst of such a moment right now as we respond to this pandemic. But this time it’s not some foreign power or terrorist organization, but rather a microscopic virus that preys on the vulnerable among us and cruelly makes them suffer alone, and that can use the majority of us who are not gravely affected by it as unwitting carriers and accomplices. Yet in our response, I believe we can see the Kingdom of God breaking into our world. Because, behind our masks, it doesn’t matter what color or age or political persuasion you are … we are one, … and we’re working together … and helping each other – me protecting you and you protecting me. And in this time of shared struggle and hardship, we come to see that the things that unite us truly are far deeper and stronger than the things that divide us.
So maybe having a picture of a sword in our sanctuary can be a helpful reminder that we still have unfinished business to do and important work yet to accomplish – that in a world of war and violence, we can work for peace and harmony, … that against forces that seek to tear down and destroy, we can try to build up and improve, … that against impulses to divide and tear apart, we can strive to mend and heal. And in doing so, I believe the world can come to see … that the Kingdom of God has come near.
- Pastor Micah
P.S. – In this spirit of peace, I offer our next video challenge below …