Making Plowshares

11 Dec

Some visions of rapture are saturated with doom and gloom of inevitable war where the good will be saved and the evil will parish. There is nothing for us to do but wait, and try to be on the good side when the flaming end comes. Other visions are a bit more hopeful. Yesterday I worked on Isaiah 2 with the youth at church. The fourth verse reads:

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
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 any more.

Isaiah gives us a hopeful look at the end of times. Violence is not part of God’s vision. We know the end is near when our fighting turns into coming together to create instead of destroy. We are active in Isaiah’s vision for the end times. There is work for us to do. It is dark, but the light is coming.

Where we think the world is headed and how we think the world will end influences how we live today. If the world can know a time of no war, we must wonder what we can do to help. Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of the light of Christ, the messianic age. Isaiah’s vision of the end times encourages us to think about how our actions matter in that time of waiting. If the end times is characterized by farm work and an absence of war, we have some work to do! For some, it is literally turning weapons into agricultural tools:

So inspiring, but turning weapons into plowshares is not realistic for all of us. What can we do with this Advent challenge from Isaiah to get busy ending war and giving farmers tools to work with? I love that verse four moves from war to farming, and there are plenty of amazing organizations that are committed to new models of agricultural support that are lifting up women in extreme poverty. By supporting these organizations that are helping get access to land and water, fair wages and bank credit, we can be part of creation over destruction. It can be our way of making tools and ending war. Here is an example from Charity Water:

Lutheran World Relief is another organization that has been working with women farmers in Latin America, Asia and Africa to form small farmer co-ops for decades. Their tripartite model gives farmers security with banks until they can earn good credit. They offer literacy programs to help women farmers be more effective in their businesses. They build irrigation systems and facilitate diversification of crops. And it’s working.

Living Advent in Minnesota, where the ground is cold and covered with snow, plowshares are not the first thing on my mind. But I do think that investing in organizations that are experts in innovative and compassionate work with water and land is a good way to commit to live this season and move toward peace. What organizations do you trust doing food and water justice work around the world?

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