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War Lessons

War Lessons

Wednesday, December 3, 2013 — Week of Advent 1, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)

Isaiah 2:1-11

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

Luke 20:19-26

While teaching medieval history this semester, I had to cram the entire Hundred Years War into 75 minutes of class time. (I scheduled the topic for last week, when we lost a day of class to Thanksgiving.) But today’s first Scripture reading made me glad that we all spent last Thursday enjoying a bountiful harvest rather than learning more about the advantages of the medieval longbow over the short bow or crossbow. Perhaps we were getting a glimpse of the prophet Isaiah’s vision of a future when people “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.”

What strikes me in particular about this passage is that war is something people “learn.” When we study history, we learn about conflict after conflict. And a wide range of less formal sources also give us lessons in war: movies, news stories, work environments, etc.

But we can take a step toward Isaiah’s vision by learning and teaching new lessons. How did people in human history, in our more immediate communities, or in our families resolve their differences without violence? Where can we find stories today about people who are de-escalating violence and making peace effectively?

It doesn’t take long to look up the extraordinary “Unarmed Bodyguards,” or to pick up a copy of “Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War.” Not to mention that people in our midst can teach us so much about making peace. Today, we can move toward the future God desires for us by filling our hearts and minds with lessons from creative peacemakers rather than learning the craft of war.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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St. Augustine said that war requires peace. There can be peace without war but there can be no war without peace. War is the pursuit of a better peace. We learn/train in the art of war. The cause of it is in our DNA where the spirit wars aginst the flesh.

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