Wednesday 10th May 2023 Hope for a world that actively works for peace (part 1)
Reading Isaiah 2:3-5
Many peoples 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.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 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 house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
The prophecy contains the familiar phrase ‘beating swords into ploughshares’; a vision of God’s world as it should properly be. We might see this ideal as taking place at the end of time, or alternatively, in the ‘last days’ following the incarnation of Jesus, when we received instruction going out from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). In either case, we are urged in the reading to walk in the light of the Lord today.
God will teach us his ways and we are to be keen students. The learning does not come overnight, rather it is through hard work. In this ‘walk’, we aim not for knowledge alone but changed thinking and practice. We hold on to the hope that progress can be made and nations will not ‘learn war’ any more.
Some parts of our world are suffering the devastating effects of armed conflict. Elsewhere, conflict and injustice might not be characterised by military confrontation but instead lie below the surface in our communities. Does your congregation have a partnership with a church in another country? Do you know what peace entails in their situation or can you find out?
The Joint Public Issues Team wants the UK government to make a greater contribution to ‘learning’ and practising peace. The work of the Foreign Office through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund is great, but funding to this vital area has been reduced at a time when it is needed more than ever.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force in 2021. The UK has not signed this treaty and has refused to send an observer to a historic first meeting of State parties. We are encouraging banks and pension funds to ‘learn peace’ by asking them to withdraw investments from companies involved in the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
We also want to see the UN General Assembly hold a fourth Special Session on Disarmament to bring under control the spiralling spending on arms and new weapons technologies.
Lord, We pray your comfort on those who are suffering from the horrors of war.
Give us the vision from the top of your mountain; from these heights may we learn what it means to be peacemakers.
May our nations not be judged by the strength of their armies, but by their ability to resolve differences peacefully. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Amen
Steve Hucklesby is a Policy Adviser with the Methodist Church and helps to coordinate work around international affairs for the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).