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Let there be peace on earth

Monday, March 12, 2018

From Isaiah 65
Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Andi, Aki and Miles are in Japan this week visiting their family and introducing Miles. Yesterday he was sixteen months old; and he’s walking, understanding lots of words, laughing, eating with a spoon. Plus he’s learning Japanese as well as English. What better place to do more of that than Japan with people who love him?

We have photo albums of people holding us when we were babies, playing with us when we were sixteen months old or so. Margaret and I traveled shorter distances in Kentucky and Indiana and Illinois, but that was far enough, I guess. Everyone smiled a lot when we were in their arms. I’m sure it will be that way for Miles, too, and he’ll have the pictures to prove it. They are worth a thousand words.

I think these photos change how I see my past. Those were the good old days. But world history focuses far more on wars than on treaties, on deaths than births. My own brain’s chemistry requires six positives to balance one negative experience. Cameras might not click in the midst of crisis, but our brains are more alert than ever.

Our bodies remember everything. We stiffen and harden physically in the wake of trauma, repression and stress. We often die earlier than we thought we should. Isaiah’s prophecy goes on to promise all his listeners a good old age, when they “shall live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.”

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

We have not brought about this sea change. The evil we have lived with all our human lives on earth has not lost traction. Genocides are far more frequent. Human morality seems to be devolving. Isaiah wrote these words almost three thousand years ago. How many more generations before the wolf lies down with the lamb? No wonder we wonder whether God exists.

But a hopeful seed sprouts inside my doubt when I read the phrase in the Apostles’ Creed, “He descended into hell.” Jesus told us in his “strong man” parable that “when someone stronger attacks and overpowers the strong man, he takes away his armor and divides up his plunder.”

I think this means that when “he descended into hell” Jesus Christ did the work we cannot do. The powers of Sin, Death and the Devil have been destroyed. But with the Lord a thousand years are like a day. In the mean time, here we are, and evil is right here with us, and … we are waiting, Lord. Our children are waiting. How long?

The days of sadness and death are not over, Lord. We weep for those destroyed by evil. If you’ve done the work, will you let us see? You give us glimpses, yes you do. But I forget and then again I’m caught in bitterness and fear. Forgive me, Lord. Let me know that your weeping is more than mine. I want to look into the mystery and trust the cloud, trust that you are stronger than death, trust that you are good, trust that we belong to you.

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