In days to come
the mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they 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;
4but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
Love in Action
Writer and activist bell hooks reminds us that “Just as cultivating a garden requires turning over the ground, pulling weeds, planting, and watering, doing the work of love is all about taking action.”
The prophet Micah sets forward a vision of peaceful action – peoples streaming to the Lord’s mountain to learn God’s ways and walk in God’s paths. In this world, those who have focused on war now beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, creating an environment where “they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid,” (verse 4).
There are many ways that our actions do the work of our love, of God’s love – planting seeds, tending plants, harvesting ripe fruit and vegetables. Picking berries, catching and preserving fish. Preparing a meal. Shoveling snow. Repairing what is broken.
As a hospital chaplain, I regularly witness other actions that show love – changing the dressing on a wound, comforting frightened or worried patients, cleaning hospital floors or sanitizing equipment, adjusting ventilator settings or providing a breathing treatment, ensuring that someone gets the proper dose of medication. There are so many ways that our actions demonstrate love, and that love requires action.
But another part of loving is to stop and rest, to savor all that is good. To “sit under their own vines and … their own fig trees.” To appreciate relationships and beauty and healing.
As Christmas approaches, we remember God’s tremendous and unexpected action in the service of love – the birth of a tiny and vulnerable baby, Jesus Christ, love incarnate, God with us. That birth, that action born of love, makes a new world possible.
God, you are the source of all love. In Jesus’ birth, you revealed your love and presence among us. Guide us along your paths and inspire our actions, that we too may reveal your love. Amen.
Rev. Susan Halvor – Manager, Spiritual Care, Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage