Isaiah 2:1-5
2:1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2:2 In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
2:3 Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
2:4 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.
2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Matthew 24:36-44
24:36 "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
24:37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
24:38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,
24:39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
24:40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
24:41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.
24:42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
24:43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

These scripture passages from the lectionary came alive for me this week. They speak to what has been on my heart, my mind, and in the that news I follow. The passage from Isaiah resonates with me and my experience and values. I hope it does with you, too. To me, it is a seminal part of living in to our faith: let us "lay down our swords and shields" 'cause we "'ain't gonna study war no more" as the famous freedom song reminds us. That song has been looping through my head all week as a result of studying these passages. For me, it brings to mind the Christian Peacemaker Team with whom I shared community and made a home amongst in Toronto for two years. I was living in what had historically been a Catholic Worker House, in a community which prizes hospitality above their own comfort, and consideration of neighbour, particularly hungry and homeless neighbours, above personal property. In my time living in this community, it had become the office and housed the delegates and employees of the Christian Peacemaker Team, who live and love in to their beliefs that a peacemaker should put as much on the line for peace as a soldier would for war. The Christian Peacemaker Team stands alongside the oppressed and vulnerable in dangerous and unpopular situations, standing up against oppressive regimes around the world in conflict zones. It was through this team of peacemakers that I really came to understand peace and pacifism as action, as a call to justice, and scriptures came alive for me in a different way as a result.

More recently, I have been following developments of anti-pipeline action in North Dakota, keeping an eye on the news as much as my heart will allow me, and the land and water defenders there have been in my prayers for months now. I suspect many of you have also been following these developments and human rights atrocities. In case you have not heard what is happening, and because a recap might help to focus our attention, prayers, and understanding, here is a brief report from the situation in North Dakota, which has grown out of a strong indigenous nation, the Sioux:

A report reads as follows:
What's happening in North Dakota right now may shock you.
Thousands of protestors are converging at the Standing Rock reservation.
These water protectors oppose the construction of a 1,172 mile pipeline transporting oil across four states. They are being met by heavily militarized police.
Water protectors have been shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, blasted with water at subfreezing temperatures, tazered, attacked by dogs, and beaten with batons. Some have even reported being kept in dog cages while under arrest.
38 miles of the stretch belong to the Lakota Sioux Native Americans based on an 1868 treaty.
The nation points to serious environmental concerns and the desecration of sacred burial sites as unacceptable.
The nations, environmental activists, and all states involved expressed concerns about safety risks and spills resulting from the pipeline
In the last 20 years there have been reported 11,199 spills. That's about 560 a year on average.
It's not a matter of whether or not a spill will occur. It's a question of when.
A spill into the Missouri river could be catastrophic for one third of the United States' agricultural land.
And would pollute a significant source of fresh water in the U.S.
The Sioux committed that they will not stop until the pipeline is defeated
The water protectors continue to experience heavily armed opposition at great personal risk and injury, and remain dedicated to peaceful protest
Water protectors are calling for support. "This is your water too"
Take action at

These actions being taken against water and land defenders are heartbreaking and difficult to watch, but watching and being attentive listeners is truly the least we owe them as they stand up for our earth, our water, their/our land, and each other. The police and military action are directly in line with the attempts to discourage the civil rights movement a few decades ago in America. As I have studied the civil rights movement, I cannot help but draw direct parallels to the dogs, the water cannons, the injury and dehumanization these brave protectors are facing from a government which is sworn to protect them.

Gladly, others are stepping in where the government is not only failing, but actively oppressing these integral voices which are attentive to our earth, our ancestors and the generations to come. I have had the honour of living alongside and getting to know Christian peacemakers. Standing alongside the Christian Peacemakers, this week I was surprised to learn that veterans standing up in a similar way to these peacemakers. In a literal, living example of this week's scripture, to put down swords and create ploughshares from them, American veterans are travelling to be in solidarity with Standing Rock water protectors this week,.

Veteran, activist, and screenwriter Wesley Clark Jr:
"If we don't stand up for the oppressed, that's the snowball that starts that leads to everyone elses' oppression. It doesn't matter if you are a libertarian, a conservative, or a progressive, this is everyone's fight."

"It's time to display that honour, courage, and commitment we claim to represent. It's time for real patriots. Now more than ever, it's time for anyone and everyone to lead."

While these veterans are hoping to show up with upwards of 500 veterans alongside them, they are committed no matter their numbers, bravely facing the very forces they have stood alongside, risking their mental and physical health for what they know is right.
"I'm going for religious reasons... if we only have 20 or 30, that's what God provides us."

"When [an elder] described what was going on, it brought tears to my eyes. People are concerned about the way the elders who are praying are being brutalized, and what we are doing to the planet"

The veterans operation order outlines: "In the ultimate expression of alliance, we are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete nonviolence to provide a clear representation to all Americans where evil resides. The water protectors are leading the way against this same evil which we must all face globally, saving ourselves and our children from the apocalyptic outcome of climate change."

There are many people from many belief systems and walks of life coming together in North Dakota to stand with the Sioux.

The Asian Pacific Environmental Network calls for Justice. These immigrants and refugees released a statement voicing their support, and that they are honoured to be part of this call for solidarity.
"Pan Hai Bo, leader of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network" says "We wholeheartedly support Indigenous Peoples of this land's struggle for their rights. For our rights to a clean and healthy environment, and for the continued fight ahead: we hope for a safe and smart WIN, Thank you." "APEN stands with Standing Rock"

This week I saw that a delegation from Ferguson was present at the actions against the pipelines, and that there are plans for another, larger delegation to return to stand alongside the land defenders soon. These networks excite me because it is a way of living in to the intersectional theory and theology which I have seen and studied in recent years. Black Lives Matter is standing up beside Indigenous Land Defenders. There is an inherent recognition within these groups joining together that we are made stronger by forging such alliances, that there is a hope in this peaceful action, and that we still dare hope for peace to win out over hatred and destruction.

This week as we launch Advent, I see much reason for hope. I also see a deep need for hope, in the recognition that we cannot live in this despair any more than we can ignore these situations; that we must also stand up, to uplift these voices, these protectors, these people who have lived on this land since time immemorial and wish to continue doing so, despite the nature of colonizers to consume these resources, to thoughtlessly chop up the land and leave it devastated. We have here a blessed opportunity to consider where we live, and how we live. We could challenge ourselves and our fossil fuel addiction. We can choose to live in to Christ's love. We can stand with the people at Standing Rock, live in to the prayers the elders which are offering, and listen to their voices wailing against the tanks, the extraction, the pain of mother earth.

For once, I am grateful to see a fairly literal interpretation of the Bible, as former soldiers are turning their swords in to ploughshares. Bernie Saunders spoke outside the White House this week, citing that over 300 communities from around his country stand together against this pipeline. I see him and so many others following past prophets, not allowing fear to overtake them, and I hope we will do the same.

I hope love can win. I hope we will stand up. I hope that we shall overcome. I hope that we "'aint gonna study war no more" but instead will study and live in to peace, become peacemakers, and let our own lights shine over those lit by fossil fuels and greed.

The gospel reading this morning reminds us to stay alert, vigilant, and attentive for the Son of Man. I see this as a very real and alive call today. What would Jesus be doing in our midst? I for one have a hard time imagining him standing with industry, alongside the destruction of our planet. And that gives me hope, that by amplifying the voices of water protectors, many are standing up for what we know in our hearts is good and right and just. I see elders living out this call for vigilance. I see an intersectional call to justice, reaching across divides which have previously seemed impossible to bridge. I see hope and love in us coming together today, just as I see hope and love in the gathering at Standing Rock. And I believe that we, too, can live that call to love in action, that we, too, can stand alongside the refugees, the oppressed, and those who are carefully considering the lives of our generations yet to come. Thank you for joining me in listening and prayer. May we continue in our search for God's mercy, justice, love, and a hope which springs eternal. Amen.