This is a true story of a true sign in the window of a true church:
“This is a place of peace. Weapons are allowed inside only after they have been hammered into plowshares.”
We often say that the opposite of war is peace. But when all cessations cease how do we relate to one another? And when we have peace what is our relationship with God? In other words, this opposite of war sounds static. So, what if the opposite of war is creation, according to the Broadway musical, RENT?
Two men are in the field farming. Two women are at the mill grinding grain. At the coming of the Lord Jesus, one will be taken, the other will be left. Jesus takes them where and for what? I suggest that when the Lord visits us, he will take those willing to create of the kingdom of God. In the words of St. Paul, “You know the time…wake up…the night is over, it is now daylight.”
To illustrate: A few weeks ago, Wanda Dench of Mesa, AZ, tweets her family members about Thanksgiving dinner. She thinks that she includes one of her grandsons, but her grandson has a new phone number that is not included on her Twitter list. Instead, she includes in her mass tweet to her family a young man whom she never met before. When seventeen-year-old Jamal Hinton receives the Thanksgiving tweet, he writes back, “Who is this…?” Wanda responds with, “Your grandma.” “Grandma?” writes Jamal, “Can I have a picture?” Grandma sends a picture. Jamal sends a picture back. Jamal says, “You’re not my grandma, but can I still come for Thanksgiving dinner?” And Wanda says, “Of course you can, that’s what grandmas do…feed everyone.” Now, we might think, what’s the big deal? But after this bizarre presidential election, and, the shootings in the streets of our cities, it is very important. See, Wanda is Caucasian American and Jamal is African American. And they sit down at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day.
“In days to come, the Lord…will judge between the nations, and he will impose terms on many peoples.” How? See those swords we carry to defend ourselves every day? Beat them into plowshares. Turn them into something that improves creation. See those spears we throw at each other when we get angry? Beat them into pruning hooks. Turn them into devices that improve creation. Otherwise, when the Lord appears to us in the fields or at the mill, or in our apartments, or, in our monasteries, we will be left behind.
As we approach the Lord for Holy Communion today, we know that Advent calls us to “throw off the deeds of darkness.” Hopefully this Advent, may someone mistakenly tweet us, or message us. And may this mistaken message challenge us to beat our prejudices into models that build up the creation of the kingdom of God.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
First Sunday of Advent