About the Beer:
Waterslides IPA is our first of four very different IPAs on this year’s Advent Calendar. This beer is a mainstay at 3 Sheeps Brewery in Sheboygan, WI. The brewery describes this beer as an ode to taking risks. Whatever risk or next step you are on the precipice of, the makers of this beer want you to feel like a kid on the top of that scary water slide, and choose to dive head first and take the risk. This IPA checks in at 6.7%. Brewed with Columbus, Cascade, and Zythos hops this IPA is balanced, drinkable, and reminder to #ChooseTheWaterslide.
For more information on 3 Sheeps Brewery check out their website: https://www.3sheepsbrewing.com/
As we sip our Waterslides IPA, I’m struck by how much the image of waterslides takes me back to a time of childlike joy, fun, and glee! I mean, who doesn’t love going down a waterslide! You might even say that Waterslides remind me of peace. Today’s Advent reflection is from a devotional called ‘Living Compass’ and is a reflection on Isaiah 2:4 “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not life up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” I bolded and italicized things that stood out to me.
“Peace Like A River” by Rev. Laurie Brock
I’ve lived near rivers most of my life—the Mississippi, the Alabama, the Kentucky—and they continue to create remarkable places for me to explore on my days off. Waterfalls, wildlife preserves, and wetlands all hold a bounty of God’s beauty.
They also hold within them power for destruction. Too much rain, too many people building in floodplains, and too confident a belief we can control nature with levees and locks, and these same beautiful rivers become unhelpful and even destructive forces.
Which is why, on a Sunday I was on vacation, as I gathered to worship in a small church overlooking a meandering river, I questioned the hymn writer’s words as we sang, “I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.” I’ve seen peaceful rivers. I’ve sat on riverbanks and watched the sun drop slowly into the waters of life and been awed into silent prayer. I’ve listened to water tap softly against a limestone palisade bank. I’ve marveled at the rampant, almost aggressive life that lives under its surface waters.
And I’ve seen rivers that churn and whip across boulders to carve out grand canyons. I’ve touched the gooey water in swamps and watched bugs scamper across their surface while gators guarded it all. Rivers move and twist at their rate, carving out paths for millions of years in their changes and shift s. Their waters are red, muddy, and clear, sometimes all in the same river. They trickle and rage, meander and dominate, create, destroy, and recreate.
Peace like a river challenges my thinking about peace. I want peace to be an easy state, free of any discomfort and anxiety. And it is, at times.
But the peace of God is not the peace of humans. Too often human peace comes at the expense of silencing or ignoring disparate voices. We want calm and quietude without the work of shifting and changing our own souls. We want plowshares and pruning hooks without the labor that comes with beating our swords and spears, these tools of war, into instruments of nurture and peace. And we want someone else to do the work.
The peace of God is transformative. It changes us from those who would use oppressive power to a people who nurture and tend. The peace of Christ moves us into new places. This holy peace requires that we change and move, not stay stagnant.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the trust that God can transform conflict into reconciliation. Peace is not calm because the disparate voices are silenced, but the courage to stand within the waters of righteous anger, hear the wails of suffering, and work for change. Peace is crossing from the bank of oppression to the side of justice, and having the faith to walk in the shifting sands and strong current that would make us turn back, except that God call us to cross to the side of love … every single time.
Advent sits us in the holy darkness of peace and waiting and invites us to search our souls for how we experience peace. Do we settle for human peace that swords and spears inflict? Or are we as Christians willing to have this peace of God, this calm, meandering, raging, and daunting peace like a river, in our souls?