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Swords Into Plowshares

October 2, 2016

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; 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

Yesterday Denise and I had the amazing opportunity to hear Shane Claiborne speak at First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Greeley, Colorado. Denise’s life and outlook were changed a number of years ago when she read Shane’s book, “Irresistible Revolution” at Montreat while working with her youth group.

Through Denise I was introduced to Shane’s writings and his enthusiasm for the Lord’s work. He has challenged and changed my outlook as well. To meet him and hear him share his story was transformational and a blessing for this old Padre.

We have several mutual friends through the Social Justice work that we have been a part of. Shane’s work with Jeff Hood in Texas fighting agains the Death Penalty and his passion for grace and reconciliation that is shared with Bill Pelke (Journey of Hope – Bill Pelke) touched my soul. To hear him speak his heart as one of the Prophets of old was inspiring.

Shane was in Baghdad, Iraq about the same time as a very dear friend and colleague of mine. Shane was there as a part of a Peace delegation. Chad was there as an Air Force Chaplain at Baghdad International Airport caring for the wounded and dying. Both of their souls were deeply touched and impacted by that experience. That experience was finding Christ in the depths of the hell that is war!

Shane serves God in the inner city of Philadelphia in a community called “The Simple Way”. Chad was called by the Holy Father, Pope Francis to be the Bishop of Fairbanks where he serves all of God’s children in the remote areas of Alaska. Both brothers are serving God in their specific locations and around the world.

As I sat in the church and listened to Shane’s message of hope in the midst of incredible darkness in this country, I realized that God was speaking to me through him. God was sharing a message of hope, love, and grace that literally “trumps” fear! Yes, I used that word intentionally!

The picture at the top of the blog is a simple gardening tool. It is simple and yet far from simple! A group called RAW Tools ( from Colorado Springs transforms weapons into garden tools. The tool that I was holding in my hands was created from a handgun. The mother of a young African American man who was killed in an act of senseless violence helped to transform this “sword into a plowshare” in a metaphorical and literal sense!

As I listened to Shane and held this transformed weapon, I wept and prayed. I prayed for all who are being slaughtered in an era of hatred, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and fear. I prayed for those who are paralyzed by the lies being perpetrated by elected (and seeking to be elected) representatives of this nation who need to read the Constitution they say they are defending! I heard the voice of Jesus speaking to my heart… love ALL of your neighbors… pray for those who persecute those who they deem different or somehow unworthy… LOVE God and LOVE Neighbor!

Will you pray with me, dear reader? Will you pray that hatred and fear will be transformed like this weapon has been transformed into an instrument of life? Dear reader, will you pray? Will you ACT? Will you work towards the day when, in the words of the prophet Micah, we will ALL do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God and each other?

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