Sermonette: March 13, 2023
March 13, 2023
Peace. We use that word quite often. My first encounter with that word came about as I was growing up. This was in the 1960s. We were indeed in turbulent times. The conflict in Vietnam was going strong with no signs of letting up and the number of casualties were growing. It was during this time, and I have no idea exactly when or where it came about, but giving the “peace sign” to others came to be the thing to do. We did this by making what looked like the letter V with our index and middle fingers. As I recall, and admittedly my memory isn’t all that great, it was usually when a conversation was over and as friends would go on their way, we would flash that sign and say “peace.”
I don’t recall when we stopped doing that. I can’t remember the last time I either received or gave that sign.
Now, many years later, I am involved in parish ministry serving a number of small congregations and I use the word peace a number of times in our worship services each Sunday. My guess is it’s the same for others as well. Often a liturgy or the sermon begins with “Grace and Peace to you….” At the end of our worship services often the blessing to the congregation includes “May the Lord grant you peace.” What I sometimes refer to as my favorite part of the worship service, we take time to wish each other God’s peace. Some of the people shake hands, some wave, others do a fist bump or just smile as they wish each other God’s peace and respond with, “And also with you.” One thing I noticed: while they are doing this, they smile. Maybe it’s a relief from trying to stay awake during my sermons or it just feels good to move around. But everyone has a big smile on their face as they wish each other God’s peace. I’ve mentioned this to them and they pretty much agree. It is almost impossible to not smile when wishing God’s peace to others. Whoever heard of wishing God’s peace with a frown or mean look on their face?
Those who celebrate the season of Advent with an Advent wreath know that one of the candles is referred to as the Peace candle. Yes, we use the word peace a lot. Have you ever wondered just what we are talking about when we use Peace in a Christian setting? When we wish one another peace, it is so much more than just a word meaning a lack of war or violence. It is so much more than the peace and quiet around the house when the kids are finally out the door on the way to school or when they go to bed at night and you can relax on the recliner or couch with a good book and enjoy some peace after a hectic day. Sitting on a river bank with a fishing pole in your hands or napping in a hammock on a warm summer day is certainly peaceful. While all those things are good and very welcome, it isn’t what we mean when we say God’s peace be with you.
God’s peace can refer to two things. One, a peace of mind that we get knowing that we have a loving and forgiving God. We have a God who, through the death and resurrection of His Son, makes it possible for us to enter into His kingdom. And that’s the ultimate Peace. It is a peace for which there aren’t human words to describe it. It is a peace that is so pure that scripture tells us it surpasses all human understanding. It must be truly magnificent.
I wish you God’s peace and let us make an effort to wish each other God’s peace, more often that just on Sunday mornings. Let’s do it every time we meet.