Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 26, 2019
- May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
- Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.
- The peace of the Lord be with you always.
- Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace.
We use the word often in our liturgy, don’t we? And we often ask for peace in Prayers of the Faithful. We long for peace in our communities and try to find peaceful solutions to political conflicts. We hope for peace within our church and our families, and sometimes we search for peace within our conflicted hearts.
But far too often peace ends up being like a fairy tale; we tell the story but don’t really believe it will happen. Every day we face violence in our schools and homes; we continue to be divided by race and creed and culture. Husbands and wives go to bed at night and awake the next morning to deal with the same conflict alive in the family. Treaties are signed and declarations of peace are declared and still wars are being fought. We often wrestle with divided hearts.
Even in the earliest days as the church, still cutting our baby teeth of Christian faith, dissension arose. And unfortunately, when we hear those accounts of the early communities of faith, we don’t often hear the whole story. Like today! This morning we heard the first two verses of 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and then we skipped to the verse 22. We heard the problem; then we heard the solution. What we didn’t hear was the details contained in those twenty missing verses - the weeks of discussion and rebuttal, argument and silence, comment and listening, determination and compromise and discernment…and PRAYER.
What we didn’t hear was what they came to know, what they came to believe, what they came to understand: they couldn’t do it on their own; they needed God. Without dependence upon the power and promise of the Peace of Christ that dwelt among them, there would be no peace.
The problem, my friends, is not in what we want; it’s in where we start. Yes, peace takes work on our part. Lots of it. Hard, endless, continuing, relentless, constant work. But real peace, lasting peace, true peace of community and comforting peace of family and genuine peace of heart depends upon the work of God.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. That, my brothers and sisters, must be our starting point. We have to hold fast to that profound promise of the Risen Christ and surrender to the guidance of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Our most primal story of peace and the final story of peace, begins and ends in the hands of God.
We must, indeed, do the work; that we cannot deny. But we must begin with the peace of Christ that has already been promised us, the peace of Christ that already dwells in our midst. Then we can believe in peace, even if it is not, yet. We can look at world of injustice and not quit. We can stand in the midst of brokenness and hold to the possibility of healing. We can know the reality of war and still trust that the efforts of those who have sacrificed so much are not in vain. We can hold the memory of conflict in our hands and still find what it takes to open our arms in an embrace of peace.
When John have us the mystical image of the heavenly Jerusalem, it was not a fairy tale – it was a promise.
When Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you,” those were not empty words. This was not a fairy tale – it is a promise.