The Narrative Lectionary does a curious thing with the reading for this Sunday. After some of the last words from Isaiah of Jerusalem (First Isaiah) we hear some of the earliest. Chapters 36 and 37 urge trust in God to protect Jerusalem from the attack of Sennacherib then we flashback to a vision of nations pounding their swords into plowshares. Perhaps the lesson to learn is that trusting God in the close moment is the path to trusting God in the far vision.
Surely I’m not alone in my love of the vision of the end of warfare prophesied by Isaiah. As a tangible symbol of converting the implements of war into tools for creativity, the first church I served had a vase on the communion table that had been fashioned from a spent Howitzer shell. At my ordination service, my brother led the procession holding that vase filled with flowers to remember the far too many homeless people we had cared for and yet buried. Years later we may be no closer to a world where we shelter all people and no bombs, but the vision remains bright, providing hope that encourages trust.
On this long journey to a promised future that we may not see ourselves, it is wise to notice the mile markers that indicate progress. Just this week l noticed one in something called “Homegrown by Heroes.” lt is a program promoting farming by veterans; an almost literal plowshares for swords. While the world would be a better place with more farmers and fewer soldiers, when I hear the prophet’s words l dream the outrageous dream of a world with no soldiers. When the UN projects that $7 billion could eradicate poverty in the world and the Pentagon budget is over $500 billion, it may seem an impossible dream since we have our priorities so misplaced. On the other hand, consider what a small decrease in swords it would take to buy enough plowshares. I will continue to dream the impossible dream.
That’s the crazy thing about the kind of trust prophets call us to; they ask us to feed hope in the small successes in order to fuel our commitment to the dream only God can dream. Perhaps the thousand steps of trust that lead us to the leaps of faith are the way we train our mind to expand toward embracing more and more of the mind of God so that we too can dream the dream of God.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of Old South UCC in Kirtland, Ohio, where Darkwood Brew is used as a tool for ministry as church beyond walls. He has a YouTube channel called Bible Bytes, short video commentaries on the scripture lesson for the week.