The Peaceable Kingdom - Be Together. Not the Same
“The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.” ~ Isaiah 11:6
Mark Twain once experimented with making peace in God’s creation – he put various animals in one cage and various religious leaders in another. He went away for a couple of days. When he returned the animals were fine – there wasn’t a single living thing left in the cage of interfaith religious leaders. “They had disagreed and appealed to a Higher Authority” he wrote.
Isaiah 11 begins with the prophecy of the messianic king: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse” and moves into the image of the “Peaceable Kingdom” so familiar in the paintings of artist Edward Hicks.
Religion’s cage is a stark contrast to a recent Android animal video of “natural enemies” playing joyfully together, with Roger Miller’s music in the background. That scene stands for me in my mind as the “image” of the Presbyterian Church (USA). “Be Together. Not the Same” is the tag line for the video. It is a core identity for us in our diversity.
The images of that video of the “Peaceable Kingdom” offer promise and hope for us during a tender time in the life of the PC(USA). My personal standard on the Doctrine of the Church, which is the issue that we really must wrestle with, comes from a prayer during the Lord’s Supper liturgy from the 1970 Worshipbook : “We thank you that he is not dead but is risen to rule the world; and that he is still the friend of sinners. We trust him to overcome every power to hurt or divide us, so that when he brings in his promised kingdom, we will celebrate with him.”
And that’s my bottom line about who we are. We don’t always agree but we are not here because we agree on everything, we are here because God called us here to this occasionally "bumpy" Peaceable Kingdom we know as PC(USA). And thanks to Grace, there is, as the song says, “enough love” for all of us to be together:
In this very room, there’s quite enough love for all the world,
And in this very room there’s quite enough joy for all the world,
And there’s quite enough hope and
quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.
~ Lyrics by Ron Harris
Video link for In This Very Room