The Sermon Passage this week is the prophetic text written in Isaiah. Most Christians, even those who come twice a year, would recognize or be able to recite word for word what the passage reads. What is really interesting about this passage is that there is no doubt that this passage is about Peace, but the word Peace (Shalom) does not show up at all.
I find that very interesting because often we come to places in the Bible where the most powerful word within a given situation is often left out in lieu of letting the imagery of the other words stand. This is part of the very poetic nature that is found within much of the Bible. Some may argue that the fact that the passage does not say the word “peace” makes it all the more powerful.
The passage is fairly simple, starting with the image of the temple. This is central to much of the Hebrew texts, Both the building and destruction of the temple begins to represent faithfulness of the people. Oddly, it seems that every time that the Temple is built people tend to take it for granted, but when it is destroyed the people seem to be at odds with each other and God. Isaiah is writing at one of the times when the temple is not around. Without the rally point, people have digressed into the infighting and typical problems of the society. Mostly, people have come to blame God for their problems.
This is very interesting, especially as we look to the prophesy of this passage because there is a suggestion that while God will create the peace, it is incumbent on the people to accept that peace and go to the mountain and act on it. The promise is that if we go we will experience something more powerful than even the poetic language can catch, but we have to take the action to go; God will provide, but we need to follow through.
As we take this time in Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, one of the central questions we have to ask is whether or not we would go. If God called us to scream from the mountains about the Glory of God, would we? If God put before us a plan and road to salvation, would we trust it? If God walked into our church, would we accept him?
This brings me back to that first interesting observance about this passage. It does not mention peace, but it is undeniable that it is peace that this passage talks about. Often we see God’s undeniable hand in our lives and community, but because of one thing or another we do not ascribe God to it. In fact, often we turn from God in the process. Just think, we know Christ came into this world, we know Christ came to save all who believe, but how many times do we see people judge others based on a perceived spirituality, faithfulness, righteousness, and so on?
The Peace that we attain, is only the peace which God gives and only when we give ourselves over to God will we fully realize what that peace is all about.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen