Daily Reflection
November 28th, 2005

Barbara Dilly

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 8:5-11

My reflection on the reading in Isaiah for today is more hopeful than it would have been even a year ago. Perhaps that means I am growing in my faith; I hope so. I count myself among those who advocate peace and therefore I am very familiar with the verses, “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.” But besides the hopeful vision this represents for many of us, how does this passage apply to our lives? It is prophetic, and as such, it is not just the product of a better vision, but also a challenge to us to connect our higher purposes with the purpose of God. I think that Isaiah shares his vision of peace with us not just for the sake of peace, but also to help us grow in faith.

If we place this verse in the context of the rest of the text, we see that Isaiah is hopeful that many people and many nations shall come to the Lord’s house to learn of God’s ways and to walk in God’s paths. An even more positive note is played in the Psalm for today. “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” is what people of faith should do. “According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord” is our charge. So there is where I think I have grown a little in my faith. I think we are encouraged to pray for peace with rejoicing. I take that to mean we should pray with confidence that our prayers for peace for ourselves and all those we love will be answered. That takes great faith.

The connection I see to the Old Testament lessons and those in the Gospel is the necessity for an active faith, not just membership in a church that professes faith. We know faith requires a response to God. If we want peace, we have to do more than pray for peace, we need to work for peace is what we peace activists say. But the lessons for today suggest to me that our faith also calls us to rejoice in knowing that the peace of God is already in our midst. People who work for peace should walk in the paths of God with rejoicing. But there are a lot of peace activists who aren’t very cheerful to be around. Their efforts might be counter productive. So as I approach another Advent season, and as I pray and work for peace, I will rejoice when I share the “Peace of God” with my relatives and friends.

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