Learning War and Peace

Psalm 79; Micah 4:1-5; Revelation 15:1-8

In the 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. People 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…”

He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…

War has always been with us, and there isn’t any sign that it’s in danger of extinction. Some say that’s just the way it is. In a world with limited resources, clashing cultures, and breathtaking technology for creating such efficient killing machines, how could it be otherwise? It’s not a good reality, but it is a constant reality, dependable through time and geography.

Micah reminds us that war isn’t natural the way floods or earthquakes are: War is taught and war is learned. It’s a creation of language and fear, weapons and greed. It doesn’t exist, can’t exist, unless our human community accepts it, teaches it, and learns it by heart.

With a change of heart, a refusal play our parts in the strike first/strike back cycle of violence, war can be unlearned. This unlearning is painful and costly. People who teach peace on the global stage usually fall in a hail of bullets. How can anyone find the strength and courage to teach peace and unlearn war? I can’t say what the particulars might be in any given time or place, but I know this: it won’t happen until we enter the house of the Lord. Not just one person, one community, one country, one religion. When I come before the door, I hope I have the presence of mind, the strength of character, and the common courtesy to hold the door for those who come behind me.

Prince of Peace, enter my heart. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Offered on December 1, Advent 2014

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

4 thoughts on “Learning War and Peace”

  1. Johnna.
    I was so touched by the message about “unlearning war” and wish somehow we could
    make its advice known and heeded. One question: what is the meaning of the picture
    at the beginning of the post? I am not too clever at interpreting.

    1. Hi Marge,

      The picture is merely a shadow on a rock in Arizona, taken when my family was on vacation. I like the play of light and shadow, but there isn’t a deep meaning beyond that.

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