So, over at The Simple Way community, Shane Claiborne is learning to weld so that he can make farm equipment out of old guns. Meanwhile, Rachel Held Evans is learning origami as a way of creating something positive out of hate mail.
I guess that illustrates the transformative power of the “swords into ploughshares” idea seen in Isaiah. The concept of taking weapons and turning them into tools or art isn’t just an act of repurposing or recycling, it’s an act of transformation – transformation of attitudes, transformation of the world.
Bezalel is one of the earliest people said to receive the Spirit of God and he wasn’t a leader or a priest, he was a craftsman, an artist. He was the guy responsible for transforming a desert into a place where God lived, a tent into the throne room of the Lord. Maybe he’d have a few imaginative ideas about what to do with swords and slings.
In that sense swords into ploughshares is a work of art – it forces us to reimagine the assumptions we’ve held for so long. That letter isn’t a venom-soaked missive, it’s a swan; that AK47 isn’t an assault rifle, it’s a rake.
That cross isn’t a tool of execution, it’s an act of grace and reconciliation.
The fundamental creativity that’s part of God’s character is seen there on Calvary’s hill as he transforms Rome’s most brutal deterrent into a message of peace, hope and forgiveness. Empire’s sword became a ploughshare and no-one even saw it coming.
As we head down that Lenten path towards the cross again, I pray that I’d have the creativity to transform the weapons I wield into something more constructive, more beautiful, more holy.
Update: It turns out that someone has coined a name for a gun that’s been transformed into a guitar – Escopetarra. Invented by Columbian peace activist Cesar Lopez, there’s a video of his work over at Cultures of Resistance.)