Letter From the Pastor, September 15

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This week marked the 12th Anniversary of the tragic September 11 attacks. These have been 12 years filled with bloodshed and violence especially in Arab nations that we associate (sometimes even equate) with the terrorism that brought devastation to our shores. Even as we marked that anniversary, we have awaited news from negotiations involving the United States in another military conflict in the Middle East.  It seems for the moment that we have calmed the dogs of war and allowed diplomacy and other nations to help broker an end to violence and bloodshed in Syria without furthering the violence by the use of American weaponry. A term that I have heard often in the news in recent days is “war-fatigue.” I can think of many other reasons to stay out of the Syrian Civil war, but if American “war-fatigue” gets the job done, so be it.

When I heard of “war-fatigue,” I wondered what kind of war-fatigue might have inspired the religious imagination of the Prophet Isaiah when he wrote:

In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it.
Many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and set terms for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

This is, of course, the inspiration of the Spiritual with the lyrics:

Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Ain’t gonna study war no more.

Would that we, as a people could be so wearied by violence and killing, terrorism and war, that we might decide to lay down our sword and shield, beat our swords into plowshares, and refuse to study war anymore.

The next verse of Isaiah says: “House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!”  Isaiah, the Prophet, seemed to be saying that the “way of Lord” studies war no more.  Come, brothers and sisters, let US walk in the light of the Lord.

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