Pastor Jeremiah’s monthly article (taken from the November edition of The Chimes):
 
Pastor’s Reflections

3 He shall judge between many peoples,    and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; 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; (Micah 4:3) I’ve thought about this passage a great deal lately for many reasons.  In the Disciple Bible Study groups this expression “beating swords into plowshares” has been part of the readings we’ve done during October. The phrase appears twice in the Bible, once in Micah and once in the book of Isaiah.  I’ve also thought about this because of what I see, hear and experience in my life, in the life of our congregation, in the life of our denomination, and in the life of our nation during these times. A sword is designed to take life.  A sword is not like a knife.  A knife has many purposes: to prepare food, to cut string, to shape wood or some other material.  Sadly, a knife can be used to hurt another, or can hurt us by accident as some scars on my figure testify. A knife is inherently used to help us thrive in life; to live better.  A sword, is a weapon used to hurt others.  Now swords can be works of art, masterpieces of a craftsperson’s skill, but still they are a weapon.  In a sense I see this passage as comparing the things that help us thrive in life with the things that damage and wound life.  A sword damages, kills, and destroys.  A plow also has a metal blade that can turn the soil allowing us to grow food enough for families and communities to thrive. I see both swords and plowshares around me.  I see the announcement of a new baby coming on Facebook: a plowshare.  I celebrated with others at Church Conference that we had 19 people join our congregation this year as members, and we celebrated youth ministry, card ministry, and so many more ministries.  Even in times of sadness as with the death of our sister Debby Smith, I saw the people of the congregation reflecting on what her life and faith taught them about the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Sadly I also see swords.  The rash of mail bombs sent this past week are not designed to lead to life and thriving but to bring death and destruction.  From Central America which has one of the highest murder rates in the world, desperate asylum seekers flee with their children.  The general tone of political discussion both in the US as we near the election and also within the United Methodist Church as we seek a way forward with the special General Conference next February, are other swords both figuratively and literally.  In a sense every day I see swords and plowshares; those which destroy, and those which promises blessing and hope in Jesus’s name. I believe we humans have a tendency to notice the swords more.  We humans have many tendencies driven by fear, selfishness, and a desire to control others. That’s frankly why we humans invented swords and all the other weapons in our world.  God saw our tendencies and sent us prophets, inspired the scriptures, and most of all sent His Child Jesus Christ to show us that these tendencies towards swords don’t get us anywhere.  God is about plowshares, life, growth, thriving, hope, justice, and peace for all.  Christ came to offer God’s love and forgiveness to all people and to teach us to love each other, including our enemies, and even those with swords. Over the next couple of weeks, as we come to first election day here in the US, and then as we approach Veterans Day, I ask you fellow children of God, how can we be plowshare people?  How can we speak and act in love, even toward those who get on our last nerve, even those who might seem dangerous?  We are called to be the body of Christ.  Christ told his disciples when they pulled out swords to put them away, and then Christ healed a person wounded by a sword even through that person was in the party of people taking Jesus away to his death.  If the church is the called to be the body of Christ, how can we act and speak in such ways to put the swords away and rather focus on healing, life, and thriving?  That is what we are called to do as Christians, as those who take on the Name of Christ.  How will we beat some swords into plowshares in the days ahead?

 

Yours in Christ, 

Pastor Jeremiah