A PICTURE OF PEACE

 
by Jennifer E. Copeland
United Methodist chaplain at Duke University in Durham, NC; ordained elder in the United Methodist Church

 

 ” ‘Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.

I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

 

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth;

he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accurse.

They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

 

For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.

They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

but dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm not destroy on all my holy mountain,’

says the Lord.”

 

 Isaiah 65:17-25
 

What, exactly does peace look like?  Is peace merely the absence of violence?  If so, then we could instigate peace by taking the tentative step of stricter gun control or the bold step of nuclear disarmament.  We know, however, that peace is far more than the absence of violence, so while gun control and nuclear disarmament might be worthy accomplishments, they don’t (in themselves) represent peace.  Jesus promised us peace (John 14:27), but then said we wouldn’t recognize it among worldly definitions, especially if we identified peace only as an absence of violence.

 

But neither is peace idleness.  Isaiah is very specific about all the things we will do in the midst of our peaceful lives [in God’s new creation]: build homes, plant vineyards, raise children, live long.  Peace, it seems, is very specific for the one inhabiting it, but perhaps it is best captured in the words, “my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”

My father is a gardener, farmer, and sometimes carpenter; my mother is a quilter, embroiderer, and sometimes cook.  The work of their hands produces tangible results for them and those they love, but interestingly their longtime enjoyment of these accomplishments has nothing to do with the drudgery of work.  In their peacefulness, manifest through their tangible experience of retirement, they have time to “enjoy the work of their hands.”  The peace envisioned by Isaiah is free of all forms of violence, but more than that, it also involves creating time and space in which to do the things that bring us great joy.  It is a time when God’s character will be reflected in all nature’s being completely at peace with itself.  Isaiah’s beautiful vision of peace, of the New Jerusalem, puts all things in perspective.

 

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry of the Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

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