Peace. Yeah, right

John 14:23-29- Mothers' Day

A woman was renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office and was asked by the recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself as a 'mom.' "What is your occupation?" the clerk asked again. Instead of saying, 'mom' she said, "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations." What a glorious career! Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations," and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? And would Aunts be "Associate Research Assistants"?

Very often you hear mothers say, "Oh, what I'd give for a moment's peace." Mother's lives are most often characterized as being quite hectic these days. But life in general seems to be getting more and more hectic, chaotic, frantic.

And so, this week, as I read Jesus' words about 'peace' in the Gospel lesson for today, I thought to myself, (sarcastic tone) "Peace. Yeah, right." Family life is hectic; the work-world is hectic; even retirees say they are busier now, have less time than when they were employed in their careers.

Reports on the TV news, or in the newspapers, do not paint a picture of a world at peace, or a nation at peace, or a community at peace. One has to ask, "Peace? What IS peace?" Is it just the absence of war, an armed peace? Is that peace? Or is it the absence of racial, or ethnic or religious conflict? Is that what peace is? Is that the kind of peace that Jesus was speaking about?

No! In fact, the kind of peace he's speaking about is the kind of peace that in the face of conflict is not diminished, and is the peace that will ultimately triumph by holding us together to be victorious and not succumb to the turmoil or chaos of the world.

First of all, I love that Jesus says that even though he's leaving our sight and physical presence, we will not be left alone. He says the Holy Spirit will come to us in Jesus' name and teach us anything we need to know, and remind us of all that Jesus has said to us. Yes! "Peace I leave with you," Jesus says. "My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

And there, in that brief statement he gives us the key to how we can experience that inner peace so that the world around us won't disturb the inner peace, no matter what our challenge may be.

He knows that bringing peace to a world in turmoil is not possible until we FIRST have an inner peace. We can't even bring peace to our own households if we don't have that inner peace. It's a pointless struggle. It will never come about from the 'outside.' Peace comes about from the inside to the outside. Do you know what it means in The Lord's Prayer when you pray "On earth as it is in heaven"?

Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is within us. God works wonders in us and through us from the inside out. So, to pray, 'on earth as it is in heaven" means, as it is within in us, where peace if formed, where peace comes about, so the Holy Spirit is waiting to make that inner peace manifest on earth. You'll see it when you believe it. When you believe in the peace that Jesus can give, when you believe you can achieve that, you will begin to see it manifesting in your life. As in the words of that wonderful song, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with ME." As I bring about that inner peace within myself, it will then manifest around me.

And Jesus gives us the key to overcoming the major blocks to inner peace: "do not let your hearts be troubled [worried], and do not let them be afraid." Worry and fear are the major blocks to achieving an inner peace. Instead of dwelling on what is true or noble or admirable or friendly or excellent or worthwhile or praiseworthy, we so often let our selves focus on the negative and we worry about things, we start to fear the future. Instead of focusing on the power we have been given to use, the power we have been assured is backing us up, the power to overcome and be victorious in matters of loving one another and living in peace with one another, we let worry and fear diminish, take away, prevent us from experiencing an inner peace.

Without first having an inner peace, we cannot help bring about an outer peace in our relationships, our communities, our nation, our world. It's time for us to stop wallowing in a pit of self pity-"oh the world is so bad, there are so many mean people, what happened to family values, there is so much violence, the oil companies are so greedy, politicians are so corrupt" and on and on ad nauseum.

Come on. Let's be the new beings in Christ that we are. Let's recognize the power that is within us-given to us by Christ, sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit-and USE that power! We've been given the peace of Christ. It says so right in today's Gospel lesson. "My peace I give to you," Jesus says. "I do not give to you as the world gives," he says. What he means by that is it's a peace that can't be taken away by the circumstances of the world; it's an inner peace. And that inner peace he gives to us is so powerful, that as we focus on that inner peace, we can help bring about peace on earth. On earth as it is in heaven.

So, my sisters and brothers in Christ, the inner peace that Christ gives to us is not some vague, mystical calm. It's powerful! It has the power to calm the seas-"Peace! Be Still!" It has power to withstand the turmoil of the world about us so that we retain our inner calm and thereby influence the world, bring peace to the world around us. That is some mighty powerful peace that Jesus has given to us!

So, let's act like the new beings in Christ that we are. Jesus expects us to accept the peace that he gives us. He knows that we can achieve inner peace in our lives, that's why he gave it to us. If he didn't think it would do any good, he wouldn't have given it to us. And we have the power of the Holy Spirit to remind us that inner peace is totally possible to experience. We have to believe that. We are known as 'believers' in Jesus. We therefore are believers in what he taught, what he promised, what he GAVE to us. And we now are his instruments of peace on earth.

Let us BE who we say we are. Let us BE who Jesus expects us to be. And let us remember to say to our selves, "Peace begins with me." Say it with me: "Peace begins with me."

And now, the title of my sermon, "Peace. Yeah, right," loses its sarcastic tone and becomes, "Peace! Yeah! Right!"

And so it is! Amen!

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