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. —Isaiah 2:4
I keep a running list of books that I want to read so when I’m ready for a new one, I’ve got plenty of choices at my fingertips. Some are recommended by friends or family members, some by clients, and some from book reviews in the newspaper or on the radio. Every once in a while a spiritual direction client of mine or a fellow parishioner will mention she’s reading the Gospel of Luke, or he’s reading the book of Genesis. Then I’m humbled and reminded that I should keep books of the Bible on my reading list.
So many beautiful readings from the book of Isaiah come up during Advent that I’m going to make an effort to read from it every day between now and Christmas. I’m not going to be rigid about studying it in-depth from an academic viewpoint. I’m not going to sweat it if I don’t understand or remember the historical or political context of particular chapters. I’ll let myself pass over sections that are confusing or don’t seem to speak to me directly. Instead, I want to dwell on the promises, the good news, and the hopefulness that Isaiah speaks to a people living in darkness. Today’s passage is a perfect example: “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.” I need an antidote to all the bad news out there these days, and the book of Isaiah seems like a good one right now.
For Action: Is there a book (biblical or otherwise) you’ve wanted to read that you sense will offer you new insight, hope, or comfort? Look for it at your library or a bookstore today and give yourself the gift of reading it this Advent.