the one about peace...
May 27, 2019, 8:00 AM

Sermon from May 26, 2019

Text: John 14:23-29

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our Redeemer; amen.

So, have you ever thought about peace? Of course, we have, right? It is literally the main point of every political campaign in the history of all humankind, right? Countless politicians, private citizens, monarchies, and more have all advocated for peace in some way or another. Each has a different way of approaching it, but it is what we all want and hope for.

In addition to world peace we want peace in our lives as well? We want peace from all the troubles, all the worries, all the things that place us in any sort of discomfort.

Typically, how do we approach that sort of peace that we crave and desire? If it is on the world stage, when ‘peace’ is mentioned, it is usually sought after by having the bigger stick, right? We want a peaceful world, and the way we most want that to be accomplished is making sure the other people are too scared to mess with us.

We make sure we have a better army, more devasting weapons, and quicker responses.

We want to be ‘at peace’ so we desire to build walls, guard borders, and have ‘more weapons’ in all the ways we can.

When we search for peace in our homes, we desire to be safe. You might have a gun in the house, or a bat. You make sure your windows and doors are shut and locked, you might have a security system.

Yet… does that bring true peace?

I’m not saying that having a means to protect yourself isn’t bad. It isn’t. I’m not advocating that at all. But, does putting up more walls, accumulating more weapons, and having a bigger ‘stick’ than others really bring the peace we desire?

Because no matter how formidable your arsenal is, there’s always the question of what if. What if the other guy has a lot of stuff? What if they have something more powerful? What if the wall isn’t tall enough? What if they use this new technique to bypass the security system? What if? What if? What if?

And typically, what is the response to those what if questions we have? Build more. Spend more. All to make absolute surety that we’re going to be safe.

This sort of peace doesn’t seem to bring true peace to our lives. We can become more cautions, wary, and nervous around those who are different. We can become skeptical of new folks around us. Keeping an eye out the windows of those walking down the street from the ‘safety’ of our homes. Not venturing out into the dangerous world.

Is that really peace? Is that the peace that Jesus offers?

Thankfully, it isn’t. This morning we read and hear Jesus say that the peace he offers and brings isn’t the same type of peace that the world gives.

What is that peace? What is the peace that Jesus offers?

This week, I was able to visit a friend who was in the hospital. He’s a guy you’d never expect to be sick in any way. He’s literally built like a superhero. But, he’s sick; his body doesn’t work they way it is intended to.

But, while we sat together in the hospital and talked, he mentioned that he was pretty frustrated and bored in his room. Just waiting. Things didn’t seem like they were moving as quickly as he’d like.

He, like literally every person I visit in the hospital, wants answers. And they want them in a timeframe that usually doesn’t mesh up well with the schedules of doctors and nurses caring for them. And it can be frustrating.

But, in that moment, I mentioned to him – as I do to pretty much everyone else I visit –, I think the peace we can see in this moment is that the doctors and nurses are caring for someone who is in greater need than you. Yes, you’re here and it isn’t fun. But, would you rather be bored or have everyone tending to you?

Usually when folks are running in and out of room – it doesn’t mean things are peaceful. It typically means things are dire. I’ve been in those situations before, it’s controlled chaos.

Sounds, shouts, smells, sights.

The peace Jesus offers is the calm in the moment that says you’re going to be OK. The peace that Jesus offers is the knowledge that you are love and cared for; always. The peace that Jesus offers reminds us that we are not alone.

We’re in graduation season right now, in fact we have three young women who will be transitioning from high school to college this year. And I’ve talked with them and their parents, and there is a sense of ‘unease’ in all those situations.

Mostly from parents – particularly dads – who are nervous. Their kids are going to be leaving home. They want them to be safe. They worry because they love them dearly and fully.

Yet, the peace that we can find in those moments is that those young women are strong, they’re intelligent, they’re mindful, they are compassionate. They’ve been raised well. Because they’ve been taught well by their parents, their schools, their church. They’re going to be OK. We know that they won’t be alone.

I think there is peace in that (he says knowing that he doesn’t have to face that situation for at least 10 more years).

Jesus tells the disciples this morning that the peace they receive is the reminder that they won’t ever be alone. That God is with them. Even when it doesn’t seem like it – even when there are rumors of death – spoken directly from the one you put your trust and faith in. God is there. God will be there. God is going to send another. The Spirit, the one that will guide you, push you, compel you, love you, remind you.

The peace that Jesus offers us is that in spite of the ridiculousness of life, the turbulence, the anxiety, the pressure, the fears – we are surrounded by a community of folks, by family, by friends, by the Holy Spirit who will sit-with us in those moments. Even when it is ‘boring’ in the hospital room. Our peace from God is knowing that others will sit-with us. Sit-with us out of love, compassion, empathy, and grace.

The peace that Jesus offers to us is that calm in the midst of the storm. The peace that Jesus brings to us is the content when things are going sideways. The peace that Jesus gives us is the knowledge that no matter what we are loved and cared for by God.

The peace and love that God offers to us through the life and resurrection of Jesus is that God is indeed present with us through all this. And if God is present with us, surely God is present with the person in front of us.

The peace that Jesus offers us, isn’t the peace that makes everything perfect. Or at least our idea of perfect. There is still turmoil, things still go sideways. Yet, in the midst of that turbulence God is still present. Jesus is still walking with us. The Holy Spirit is still guiding us.

Reminding us that we are loved. Showing us that we are loved. Pushing us to see and share that love in us and through us for others. Finding all the ways both in our minds and outside our control that we are not alone.

The peace that Jesus offers isn’t one about weapons, walls, and defenses. Those typically don’t make us peaceful. In fact, I think they make us more scared because of all the what ifs.

Yet, the peace that Jesus offers is the type of peace that brings us calm in the midst of sadness when a loved one dies. That calm that assures us and others that God loves them, God loves us, God is with all of us.

The peace that Jesus offers us, is that in the controlled chaos of a hospital, those nurses and doctors are able to do the work they’ve been trained and shaped to do.

The peace that Jesus offers us, is the type of peace that comes from sending your kid off to school and new ventures knowing that they’re going to be OK.

The peace that Jesus offers us, is the type of peace that reminds us that even as we go off to new ventures, we can call our parents and hear that familiar voice of love and compassion.

The peace that Jesus offers us, is the one that reminds us that God is “I am.” God is the one who is in control. God is the one who is guiding and loving us. God is the one who has and continues to offer us grace and mercy – always.

The peace that Jesus offers us, is the one that reminds us that we are not alone. As we are splashed in the font, as we are fed at the table, as we hear the words of scripture, as we sing the hymns of praise, as we are sent from this place – together – we are reminded that we are not alone. For the Holy Spirit is indeed with us.

This peace is the one that reminds us that not one thing can separate us from God’s love in Christ our Lord. Not one thing.

That is the peace that Jesus offers. That is the peace that Jesus continues to give. That is the peace we need.

The world doesn’t offer it. But, Jesus sure does. Amen.


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