A cosy fire is a tradition of the Christmas season that is enjoyed by many in the cold northern hemisphere. Less so in the tropical heat of other festive parts of the world.
Isaiah 9 verse 5 invites us to come to another fire. The fire where warrior boots and garments soaked in blood are burned as fuel.
Verse five is a neglected part of this familiar Isaiah 9 reading, often skipped over at Carol services. But by skipping verse five we miss out some vivid imagery that is part of the process and hope of peace. It invites us to imagine the sounds of war being silenced and ridding ourselves of the wastefulness of war.
In our Advent anticipation could the burning of boots and the last of the bloody garments become a symbolic tradition in post-conflict places across the world? The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this, too.
Lord we have heard good news
and rejoiced that peace is proclaimed upon
But peace is more than words
and too often Lord
we may have settled for lives of peace and quiet
and not sought out the acts of peace with justice.
When warriors’ boots have trampled over
people not our own, and places far from home
forgive us when we have said little and done less.
Forgive us for when garments rolled in blood
cried out the death of innocence,
when we have said little and done less.
Cast our faults and failures
as fuel for the fire:
consumed in the crucible of heaven’s judgment.
May we rise from the ashes on the earth
forged into a people for justice,
stepping up to the challenge
and into the kingdom of peace.
(From the Christian Aid Christmas appeal worship resources 2018)
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.