Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Infant Holy Infant Lowly"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 2:4 – He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (ESV)
Recently, I listened to an episode of the BBC series, A History of the World. It described an amazing sculpture, The Throne of Weapons.
In 1992, an Anglican bishop, Rt. Rev. Dinis Sengulane, one of Africa's greatest peacemakers, mediated an end to 15 years of civil war in Mozambique. He initiated a project, Transforming Arms into Tools, through which combatants were encouraged to anonymously exchange their weapons for useful everyday objects to help them reintegrate back into a society no longer at war with itself. These weapons were traded for such things as sewing machines, bicycles, hoes, and the like. Through this programme, it is estimated that 600,000 arms were removed from further use, and some were used to create sculptures.
Artists used decommissioned weapons to make works of art that spoke to both sides. One such is The Throne of Weapons by Cristovao Canhavato, known as an artist by the name Kester. This chair, or throne, in the shape of a wooden armchair, is made of rifle parts welded together, as a symbol for reconciliation and peace. In one of the rifle butts, the artist found a smiling human face in the marks left by a strap. He included that rifle in his work even though his relatives had been injured by such a weapon. The sculpture is now in the possession of the British Museum.
In today's media-frenzied world of instant communication, I sense the opposite: a promotion of hate, lies, and disinformation, based on words and rebellion — in a civil war not using arms weapons — a civil war focused on the polarization of families, communities, ethnic groups, and nations right where we are. This is the fight at home for my assertion to be the arbiter of truth, the winner against something not my view. As of today, the physical outworking may look different, but the spiritual forces behind these oppositions are the same as those which incite revolt. Only Jesus has the wisdom, power, and authority to break the power of evil thoughts, words, and deeds, in order to encourage peace, to bring reconciliation and healing, and to promote forgiveness.
On this second Sunday of Advent, as we light the candle of peace, may we remember and lift up Jesus, the light that came into the world to overcome this darkness. Jesus' light is a gift to us to work in our families to bring peace, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to bring hope where we live this Christmastide.
Prayer: Lord, in Your mercy, forgive us. Raise in us an awareness of grace and bring kingdom peace to our hearts and minds, so that in turn, we can pass it on to those around us through this season of goodwill at Christmas. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.