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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord ... with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth ...

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

From Princeton University's, I bring you a couple definitions of peacemaker: 1. conciliator: someone who tries to bring peace, and 2. Browning machine gun: a belt-fed machine gun capable of firing more than 500 rounds per minute; used by United States troops in World War II and the Korean War.

Hundreds of years before Gabriel appeared before Mary and Jesus came to us, Isaiah was writing about something altogether different. His last sentence draws up the dream: nothing separates us from God and so we never need to be selfish again. It's hard to imagine this was the plan in the first place. But it was.

Now, as then, we have been free to choose the Turning Away, and now as then the consequence is immediate separation from God. Isaiah describes a time where that no longer occurs. Do we lose our ability to choose? Do we somehow become able to make the right choice? Or does Jesus cover us with a blanket of forgiveness that brings us back near God no matter what?

None of these ideas quite fit. What does fit is the dream. Nobody really wants peacemakers made of gunmetal. Even the fastest gunslinger eventually gets a bullet in his chest. But wolves lying down with lambs? Little children free to play with strangers? In our best moments we all dream like this.

These words of Isaiah mark the Advent of Jesus' sojourn on earth. They mark it with power and hope. They define the future, without explaining how we'll get there. That's how God works.

"Trust me," He says over and over. "You don't have to work so hard. I'm the Dad. Trust me."

Lord let peace like a river run through the city. Turn our darkness into light. Build us up, make us whole, show us singing and praise.

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