By Ann Perrott
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
On December 7, 1941, my Uncle Herb was serving in the Navy at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Just before 8 AM he was awakened by bombs exploding onto battleships in the harbor. He ran out of his barracks and could not believe his eyes. Thick black smoke was everywhere, so too were hundreds of men running towards the water. They knew men had been sleeping on the ships, and wanted to get to them. The scene was surreal for him and for so many others. It would be a memory he would never be able to get out of his mind.
This year is the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and as events take place to honor those who sacrificed their lives and those whose lives were changed forever, I have been thinking about how the commemoration of Pearl Harbor is juxtaposed with the season of Advent. In 1941, the second Sunday of Advent was being commemorated on December 7—the very morning people were awakened to the rising of an Imperial Sun. I can only imagine how congregations across the country and even in the world were feeling that frosty Sunday morning as they ventured out to church. The onslaught of a horrific war, young men and women going off to foreign lands to serve their country, leaving loved ones left behind for an unknown length of time. The fear must have been palpable that morning.
A few weeks later people would return to their churches to celebrate the birth of an infant born to two young Jews who would eventually have to leave their homeland in search of safety. In both circumstances life looked pretty grim, but time would bring peace to nations and the infant Jesus would bring hope to the world. This hope is what most generations have to hold onto. Every time bombs fall, or people are forced from their homes, we cannot lose hope. Jesus’ message of the love and hope God has to offer us in times of terror is there for all of us.
Isaiah’s message is a balm for those who suffer from conflict and a clarion call for us to agitate for an end to war.