At the beginning of Advent I wrote about that beautiful image from the book of the prophet Isaiah of swords being beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4). Weapons of destruction are transformed into things of creativity and fruitfulness, and there is something extraordinarily generous and liberating in that image of hope. I contrasted this with the word ‘weaponising’ which has often been applied to people’s words and actions of attack, accusation and blame in the days leading up to the General Election.
The outcome of that election is now known and in the media coverage of the coming days we will see both new and familiar faces of those in positions of political power. This is in contrast to those who remain hidden and who feel invisible and powerless. So as I pray for our newly elected MPs and government I pray they will give hope to those who are marginalised, diminished or ostracised. Yet as I pray for the voices of all in leadership to give voice to the poor, the vulnerable, those who are othered and to the silent cries of the earth, I recognise my own responsibility and pray we will each join in.
Every one of us has the power to influence the shape of our communities and our life together in this country through who we are and what we say and do. Whilst truth-telling and trust seem at a low ebb in the public square, we can live differently. Even the smallest word or action can be an instrument of new possibility rather than a destructive weapon. As hope-filled disciples of Jesus Christ we can daily beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks for the good of people and place.
This Sunday is the third in Advent when we focus on John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ’s ministry on earth. The shorter prayer for that day end with the words
‘Give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord’.
May it be so. Amen