An Advent reflection for Monday, December 4th by Rev. Dr. Laura Sumner Truax
Lectionary reading for 12/04/2023: Psalm 79; Micah 4:1-5; Revelation 15:1-8
Selected passage for reflection: Micah 4:1-5
Micah 4:1-5 The Message
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob…
3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
5 All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
our God for ever and ever.
On October 7, I began reflecting on this text from Micah: “For instruction shall go out of Zion...[nations] shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks…they shall no longer learn war.”
Within minutes my phone exploded with texts and news alerts: Massive violent attacks in Israel by Hamas, the militant terrorist group. Hundreds abducted, likely at least 1,200 Israelis dead in those early reports. Revenge was vowed, military campaigns planned.
I closed the Bible. Though Micah had lived in the region (likely about 30 miles northeast of the Gaza border), his fuzzy far-off dream of restoration and peace seemed out of touch for the news of that day. And the next day, and the day after that.
When I returned to the text two weeks later, with thousands of dead, a staggering humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and increasing militant attacks around the region, peace felt further away than ever. The weary wheel of violence: victims becoming victimizers who, in time become victims again, felt like an inescapable fate. Is there any way out?
Which is how life must have felt for the prophet too. The people seemed doomed. In these 800 years before Christ, this contemporary of Isaiah was weary of greed, inequity and violence of his world. Dishonest religious leaders, hapless people, bloodthirsty governments and regimes cluttered his landscape too. And yet…Micah believed that God – his God – was after something different. In this world of sectarian violence, Micah had a vision where God was for everybody. Astonishingly, he saw a global and diverse world where “all the peoples walk, each in the name of their god” (religious diversity! in the Old Testament?) yet they live in peace. He saw a way of life where the other wouldn’t be demonized and where the language of war wouldn’t even be learned.
I’m pretty sure I won’t be alive to see this day of great peace. Micah didn’t see it in his flesh either. But I suspect he lived it in his spirit. That’s what I can do too. I can resist throwing up my hands and walking away because “it’s too complicated.” To quote another prophet, I can meditate on the “things that make for peace” remembering that peace isn’t a destination, but a way of life. Therefore, today I seek to live more kindly and gently with those I work and live with. Finally, and maybe most importantly for this time right now, I can resist labeling the other as my enemy. Enough, I sense Micah saying to me. Enough. God is simply not in the hating business.
Perhaps you are caught in your own cycle of violence. Maybe it’s the go-to words you have for your partner, or the slow drip of anger that boils over in rage. These can be instruments of your own war zone. Consider where these words of Micah may also be talking to you. Allow the Prince of Peace to speak into your weary habits and practices so that you too may decide, “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”
Holy One, thank you for the gift of today. May my words and actions today be marked by peace. As I think about the wars of the world, may I also think about the many helpers straining for peace. Encourage and sustain the peacemakers. In your name, I pray.
About the Author
Laura Sumner Truax is an author, pastor and spiritual director. Her doctoral work examined the spiritual practices of progressive evangelicals who have left their former churches. Laura facilitates an online meditation group at MeditationChapel.org, practices spiritual direction as an adjunct professor at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and teaches through a variety of online groups. Follow her on insta @freerangechristian4.