He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is my own.
Swords (and fierce dogs, and helicopter gunships) defend what’s ours.
Spears (and spike-topped fences and rocket-propelled grenades) say: ‘Keep off!’
Ploughshares make land fertile, and pruning hooks make fruit trees flourish.
Open spaces and community gardens say: ‘Let’s share and enjoy together.’
From disputes over the garden fence to proxy wars where families die, or are made homeless, because the great powers support the warring factions in internal conflicts, we human beings seem always more ready to use force to increase our power and protect what is ours than we are to share, and enjoy.
Yet, it is when we share that we flourish.
We find the lesson hard to learn. God knew it from the earliest days. And from the earliest days, God was teaching reconciliation. God was teaching that all creation is a gift to be shared. And from the earliest days, there have been people who have been faithful to God’s way. They have been faithful enough to hope for it. Faithful enough to proclaim it. Faithful enough to work for it. May we be numbered among them.
Lord of creation,
Lord of all the lands and the seas,
Lord of all the nations,
Call us again to your holy mountain,
And teach us your ways.
May we learn your ways,
So that you, and your peace
May truly become our desire.
Peter Rand is a member of Trinity Church, Bedlington in Northumberland.