Wednesday Words

December 14, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Can’t Wait for Peace

 

I can’t wait!!! It’s a phrase normally reserved for trivial things – things that we are excited for and know are going to happen. So it’s used to say things like, “I can’t wait for the next Star Wars movie!” or “I can’t wait for the next episode of the Mandalorian!” (guess who broke down and got Disney + ???).

We say “I can’t wait” for things that can wait all the time. But on the flip side, the things that really can’t wait, are the things that we put off.

Apologizing for that hurtful thing I said the other day? That can wait.

Writing that letter to my congressperson on behalf of the homeless? That can wait.

Peace in this world? We’ve been waiting for the entirety of human history! Why stop now?

It’s easy to wait for the little things, but when it comes to the big things, most of us delay and sit on our hands. We would rather not have to do the hard work of peace. It’s heavy, it’s emotional, it’s exhausting, it’s never ending. But peace is one of the few things that truly can’t wait, because while we wait, people suffer.

 

For more Biblical devotions on peace from our What Can’t Wait series, stop by and pick up a copy of our booklets.

KEY SCRIPTURES Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 3:1-12

THEME CONNECTIONS

Isaiah points to a peace this world has yet to know—peace where the wolf lies with the lamb and a child

shall lead us. John the Baptist invites us to believe in this vision of peace, but first, we must repent of the

ways we turn away from God and do harm to others and ourselves. Only through honest confession can

we seek reconciliation and become vessels of God’s peace, facilitators of the Kindom of God drawn near.

 

GUIDING QUESTIONS

• The stump of Jesse represents the end of the Davidic dynasty, the family line believed to carry

Yahweh’s goodness and righteousness. The monarchy was either thwarted by the Babylonian

exile or the Assyrian empire—historically, we’re not exactly sure. Regardless, this image of the

“stump” likely portrayed the fear and uncertainty many felt about Jerusalem’s future. What

might be a modern day example of a “stump”? What fears do we hold about our future?

 

• John the Baptist’s invitation to baptism reflects the ritual tradition of Jewish proselyte baptism. The ritual emphasized spiritual cleansing for gentiles being welcomed as new members of a Jewish tribe.

How does this ritual of baptism differ from the practice and meaning of baptism in your particular faith community?

 

• Why does John the Baptist insist that repentance can’t wait? How might his social location

and lifestyle contribute to his sense of urgency for radical transformation?

 

• The Hebrew word for “repent” means “to turn.” Literally, this means to return or change

directions; metaphorically, this connotes radically changing your behaviors or perspective.

In Matthew 3:1-12, the word used for “repent” stems from the Greek noun, metanoia, which

refers to a transformative change of heart. The hebrew word shalom, often translated as

“peace,” speaks to completeness, wholeness, and restoration. Given these translations and

connotations, what is the relationship between repentance and peace?

 

QUOTES & RESOURCES FOR INSPIRATION

“Forgiving and being reconciled are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not

patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes

the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the degradation, the truth. It could even sometimes make things

worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end dealing with the

real situation helps to bring real healing. Spurious reconciliation can bring only spurious healing.”

—Desmond Tutu. No Future Without Forgiveness. New York: Image Doubleday, 1999. 270-1.

 

“Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are

prepared to read the Bible—with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias, which is from the

side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. This is foundational

and essential conversion. The Greek word metanoia, poorly translated as ‘repent’ in the Bible

(Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15), quite literally means ‘to change your mind.’ Until the mind changes the

very way it processes the moment, nothing changes long term. ‘Be transformed by a renewal of

your mind,’ Paul says (Romans 12:2), which hopefully will allow the heart to soon follow.”