The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Isaiah 65:25

 

 

Introduction…

Back in the 60’s one of my all time favorite songs that I played on the guitar went like this:

LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM

E.McCurdy

Recorded December 5, 1969

VERSE:

Last night I had the strangest dream

I’ve ever known before

I dreamed that all the world agreed

To put an end to war

REFRAIN:

I dreamed I saw a mighty room

And the room was filled with men

And the papers they were signing said

They’d never fight again

VERSE:

And when the papers were all signed

And a million copies made

They all shook hands and bowed their heads

And grateful prayers were prayed

REFRAIN:

And the people in the streets below

Were dancing round and round

While swords and guns and uniforms

Lay scattered on the ground

VERSE:

Last night I had the strangest dream

I’ve ever know before

I dreamed that all the world agreed

To put an end to war

 

Isaiah had the same dream.

So have lots of people down through the ages.

We just had one of the most contentious elections in history and wow, what a great scripture to have for today.  Call it good luck, fortuitous or the hand of God, I don’t care what you attribute it too but the scriptures from the lectionary are picked years ahead of time and the ones for today could not have been more on target.

 

The dream of peace is a great dream.

It is a strange dream.

It is a wonderful dream.

The dream of peace, wow!  Talk about a message we need to hear today.

 

Last night I had the strangest dream, I ever dreamed before.

 

 

 

Bible background…


Isaiah is one of the greatest prophets of all time.  The Book of Isaiah is one of the most important books in the Old Testament.  Isaiah lived and wrote in the 8th century B.C.  The lesson from today is derived from the so-called Third Isaiah, the chapters from 56 to the end of the book, which were likely written after the restoration of the exiles in Judah, expressing disappointment about what had transpired since their return.

This lesson is a continuation of the prophecy of Third Isaiah about the righteousness [tsedaqah, faithfulness to promises made] of God, especially with reference to the coming transformation of heaven and earth.

The lesson begins with God promising to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things will not be remembered [zakar] (v. 17).

He urges the faithful to rejoice [gul] in what he is creating, for he is about to create Jerusalem as a joy (v. 18).

God will rejoice in Jerusalem, it is said, and delight in his people. No more will they weep (v. 19). No more will there be premature deaths in the city, it is prophesied (v. 20). The people will not work for others but will enjoy the work of their own hands (vv. 21-22). Children will not be born for calamity/terror, for offspring will be blessed (v. 23). Before the people call, God pledges to answer (v. 24).

The wolf and lamb will eat together, it is said, though food of the serpent will be dust. All will be at peace (living in harmony) (v. 25).

 

I. The dream of peace, a time when the wolf and the lamb will lie down and eat together is just as beautiful and just as important today as it was in Isaiah’s own time

And who’s going to make it possible?  That’s the question isn’t it?

 

Who’s going to do it?

Who’s going to bring peace about?

Everyone loves the dream of peace.  We all want it and seek it.  But who is going to bring it about, and how?

 

Is it some old judge in an old black robe?

Is it some folk singer, wearing a multi colored shirt and having long hair playing on his guitar?

Do we have to wait until Jesus returns and does it for us?

Is it everyone else’s job?

 

Or is it your job, my job, our job?

Who is responsible for bringing peace to a shattered world?  you…and me…us uns’ all?

 

A long time has passed since I first learned that old song and plunked on the old guitar.

I’m a lot older, a lot less naive, a lot more hardened, and not much of a better guitar player or singer but no less convinced about the dream of peace.

I remember vividly learning to play and sing this song a long time ago.

It was one of the first songs I ever learned on the guitar.  I had a lot of trouble with F chord.  The F chord requires bridging a couple of the strings on the guitar and I never quite practiced enough or played enough to have it become second nature to me.

Peace is a lot like the F chord…it’s hard to work out, it’s hard to play and we have to practice, practice, practice to have it become second nature to us.

 

No one else can bring peace into my world except me.

No one else can bring peace into your world except you.

 

We have to practice…a lot.

We have to teach ourselves so that it becomes second nature to us.

We have to be able to take our fingers and our arms and our toes, our very way of seeing and responding to the world as second nature full of peace.

 

It’s not up to everyone else.

It’s up to me.

It’s up to you.

It’s up to every one of us

 

II. But it’s not easy. It never has been.

Peace is always a chore…it always has been.

Especially if you are wired with genes and the blood and the quick temper I am…and a lot of you are too.

Peace means we have to see someone else’s point of view, their way of looking at things.

Peace means we have to try and understand how someone else sees differently what we see.

 

Peace means we have to be willing to trust other human beings in deeper and more important ways than our natural instincts lead us to.

 

Peace means we have to give up having our way, our view, our everything, at least some of the time.

 

What gets in my way? What gets in your way?  I can’t answer for you, you’ll have to do that for yourself but I can tell what gets in my way.

My need to be right gets in my way.

My strong feelings and beliefs about what I feel and believe in get in my way.

My quick temper sometimes gets in my way…maybe more than some times.

My need to have things my way gets in my way.

 

But it’s not all bad.  No, not by any means.

My vision and my hope and my dreams for a better world can get in my way but dreams and vision and hope aren’t bad things.

Feelings and beliefs and commitment can get in the way but they aren’t bad things on the face of it either.  We need feelings and beliefs and commitments.

 

We have peace through strength…but with strength comes great responsibility.  Responsibility not to give in to our worse leanings or worse desires; responsibility to stand up those with less, those who are poor, those who may not have the strength and vision and purpose we have.

III. What would our world look like if we really took it seriously and sought to bring peace in the world?

It would mean all those ugly, nasty Facebook Posts on Wednesday following the election wouldn’t be labeling everyone else who voted differently from us with one ugly phrase or another.

It would mean speaking with a little more kindness, a little more understanding, and a little forgiveness.

It would mean recognizing and respecting other people’s perspectives, opinions, ideas and attitudes at least as well as ours.

It would mean letting it begin in our homes, our churches, our places of work, on the Metro, in the car, even with…especially with our own children and parents and family members.

 

What would more peace in your life mean to you?

What would deeper peace mean in your life to you?

Where would you begin?

How would you be different?

 

Closing,

Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before,

I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war.

 

If I close my eyes I can see myself, back 50 years or more.  If I look real hard and concentrate I can see a naïve young guy with a thick head of hair, skinny as a rail, with bright shining blue eyes standing tall and belting out a new folk song he had just learned.  It was an era when folk music was king.  It was all the rage.  Young folks would go to Hootenanny’s and listen to groups like the Kingston Trio or the Chad Mitchel Trio or individuals like Pete Seeger or Burl Ives or the Man in Black, Johnny Cash sing new and wonderful folks songs.  People would join in, maybe a little off key, OK, a whole lot off key and sing and sway to the music.  We were all young and eager to make a difference then.

The years have come and gone.

The hair is gone.

The skinny is gone.

The shine is the eyes isn’t altogether gone but it dimmed, just a little bit hopefully.

The naiveté and innocence is gone.

 

But the dream remains.

The hope endures.

The song continues.

 

Will you share the dream with me?

Will you keep the hope alive in your own heart?

Will you renew the vision in your daily life?

 

Last night I had the strangest dream… and it keeps coming back.

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Isaiah 65:25