John 14: 15-31
The shocking massacre in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo; the torture, beheading, crucifixion and displacement of minorities by ISIS in Syria; the flaring up of racial unrest in the US; the hatred and violent conflicts generated by the Hindu nationalists against the religious minorities in India; the havoc caused by the wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions of civilians by the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram and the often unheard children in Gaza suffering through their third war in six years – all of this and more tell us that our world needs peace now more than ever.
On a personal level, a job affected by the oil crash; betrayal of a close friend; frustration with unmet expectations; anger over a loss; unresolved conflict in a close relationship and trivial disagreements that have turned into bitterness and grudges - all of this and more tell us that individuals, families, churches and communities need peace now more than ever.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus said something very interesting, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus knew that his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and tortuous death on the cross would cause fear in his disciples and threaten their peace. And so Jesus makes way to this promised peace through a conflict that reached its climax on the cross - a conflict over sin, death and Satan.
Peace in Scripture reflects the idea of the Hebrew word ‘shalom.’ Shalom is more than just a customary greeting or farewell and it is totally unrelated to outward circumstances. In fact the focus of shalom is not the absence of conflict. Rather the focus is the goodness of God, when everything is as it was always meant to be.
While everyone is desperately seeking for peace politically, socially and individually, Jesus, the Prince of Peace is making things the way it should be in people, between people, and for people. And the exciting news is, you and I not only get to experience this shalom in and through Jesus, like the disciples, but we also get to join Jesus in making things the way it is meant to be in our families, churches, communities, nation and in the world.
God of peace, help us not to be indifferent to the wars, violence, abuse, and our self-centered actions as individuals, families, churches, communities and nations. Give us the courage in these dark situations to be instruments of your peace as we join you in making all things the way it should be. And while we are at it, may the peace of God guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Avenue Community Church