“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Micah 4:3)
Advent is forever a season of reflection, abundant hope, and anticipation. It is when we dare to dream of a world that works for all people in the coming of baby Jesus. Advent invites us to live in fearless faith for a world healed and whole.
At the Riverside Church in the City of New York, we set as our Advent north star, “Expecting Jesus,” and we are doing just that. In worship and Bible studies, with carols and cookies, with children and community, we are watching for promise and turning away from distraction. We are seeing glimmers of justice and working toward a world on earth as it is in heaven. We are expecting Jesus along with a world where the mighty are laid low and the weak find refuge. We are midwifing this baby king, and the world we expect, into existence — knowing that getting born is hard work!
The prophets Micah and Isaiah speak of a world where swords are beaten into plowshares and no one trains for war. We strain to see their peaceful vision in the ongoing battle in Ukraine, the less familiar war in Ethiopia with even more casualties than in Ukraine, and the frequent gun violence that barely cracks our news cycle. Elected officials are unwilling to keep us safe from the guns that outnumber U.S. citizens, and their thoughts and prayers do nearly as much harm as the high-capacity bullets they fail to eliminate.
It is a tragic reality that victims of gun violence are disproportionately people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ folks, and other marginalized groups. Daring to act as if the last, the least, and the left out matter in our country requires the daily cultivation of fearless faith — leaning into the vision of a new world that is caring, loving, and safe. A world that is waiting for us to put down our guns and turn toward our neighbor — a requirement if we are to heal what gun violence has broken.
God’s people can choose to care for one another with lavish love and justice. That is the better world we dare to anticipate during Advent. Because we are expecting Jesus, this world is possible, and it is possible because he is coming. This Advent, join me and all who follow a baby king in ushering in the world we imagine because that world is waiting for us to choose it.
Adriene Thorne is senior pastor at the Riverside Church in New York City. You can find more about their Advent theme this year, Expecting Jesus, here.
NOTE: This is part of our Unsettling Advent devotionals running Nov. 27-Dec. 24. You can subscribe for free to receive them each morning in your inbox.