By Virginia Holmstrom
The imagery of “the peaceful kingdom” in Isaiah 11:1-9 has not been lost on me in the divisive discourse that drowned civility during our nation’s presidential election. The Old Testament scripture passage from Isaiah 11 is often preached during the Advent season in anticipation of the arrival of a ruler favored and blessed by God: Jesus, who is of the human lineage of Jesse and the divine Son of God whose spirit will reside in him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will govern with righteousness, justice, fairness, and faithfulness. In short, Isaiah’s message long ago offered a troubled world Hope for a transformed and healed world.
The words that begin the 11th chapter of Isaiah are almost like an inaugural address that speaks of hope and redemption for all creation. It foretells the inauguration of a peaceful reign governed by the prince of peace. In this “peaceful kingdom” the wolf lives side by side with the lamb and does not devour it. The leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the toddler-child and the snake do not intimidate or fear one another. The vulnerable and the powerful live in harmony. The “created” protects God’s creation. Creation reveals the Creator; the knowledge of God fills the earth.
These images from the Isaiah 11:1-9 inaugural address will be on my heart when on January 20 the world tunes in to listen to our nation’s newly-elected president’s inaugural address.
The inaugural address in Isaiah compels me to get serious about working toward the transformation of the world. It calls for my commitment: I will seek to be transformed in my devotion to Christ through the renewing of my spirit. I will seek to be God’s transformation agent within the communities where I live and worship and work and play. I will pray for the grace to see and love and care for others with the grace that God has shown to me. I will pursue peace. I will help to heal our wounded earth.
In American Baptist Women’s Ministries, we’ve been reflecting on what it means to be in relationship as “Beloved Community” and how we shall help facilitate being such a community with God’s help. Beloved Community is lived out through relationships of mutual respect, active listening, standing up with and for each other, loving and encouraging and empowering one another. God’s “peaceful kingdom” and “Beloved Community” are meant to be experienced by all of God’s people. Won’t you join me in this transformation work? God, open in us the gates of your kingdom.