Sixth Sunday of Easter John 14:23-29 5/22/2022

THE MARVELOUS PEACE OF GOD

It is the night before Jesus would die on the Cross.  He is in the Upper Room with his disciples preparing them for his departure and that he would be sending a Spirit who would be with them the rest of their earthly life, and that Spirit would guide them in their life and ministry and finally home to God.  And the most important gift the Spirit would give to them would be peace.

Let’s spend some time this morning looking at this “marvelous peace of God.”

I would like to begin this sermon with a poem by William Percy that was later made into a hymn.

They cast their nets in Galilee just off the hills of brown.

Such happy fisher folk before the Lord came down.

The peace of God that filled their hearts brimful and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,

Homeless in Patmos died

Peter, who hauled the teeming net.

Head down was crucified.

The peace of God.  It is no peace,

But strife closed in the sod.

Yet family, pray, for but one thing

The marvelous peace God.

Later in this sermon we will reflect on why in the peace of God, there is no peace, but strife closed in the sod, but now let us first look at what is generally seen as peace.

We all have been horrified over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.  I have been sickened by the atrocities committed by the Russians and how their artillery has leveled once beautiful cities.

I long for peace to come with justice.  What might that look like?  Is peace nothing more than just the cessation of hostilities?  Who is going to repair the damage to the cities and farmland of Ukraine?  How will the people who are grieving the death of members of their families, both in Ukraine and Russia be comforted?

There is a tragedy, similar to World War 2 unfolding before us.

Yes, what is peace and what does it look like?  I will leave that to the diplomats to decide once the fighting ends.  But I pray, and long for God’s peace to come soon.

What does it mean for a person to say I have peace?  I remember some years ago a very close friend who dearly loved her father once said to me she did not know if she could let her father go when he died.  It was cancer and the pain before his death was horrible.  She found herself praying that God would take him.  The day he breathed his last breath she told me that she had peace.  Her father’s suffering was over, and both she and her dad were now at peace.

What is this peace that God gives?  This gift is something we experience most when we can give over to God the things that worry us the most.

There is a needlepoint hanging in our kitchen that was done by Ann’s mother.

“Today is the tomorrow that worried you yesterday and all is well.”

We don’t surrender responsibility for our life, but rather we recognize there are limits to what we can affect or achieve on our own, and sensing these limits, we place ourselves, our loved ones, our fortunes, and our future in God’s hands.  And God’s response is to give us peace, a peace that allows us to lift our gaze from the troubles that beset us and see those around us as gifts of God worthy of our love and attention.

The world offers to give you peace.  It tells you if you could make enough money, have enough insurance and health care all will be well.  It tells you if you just make enough money and have the right 401K your future is secure.  But is that real peace?  Is that real security?  No matter how much Botox you use, one day you will die.

No, the peace of God offers you something far deeper.   Martin Luther King after he was called to be pastor of Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, was given an even greater calling.  It started with leading the Montgomery bus boycott.  It eventually became a call to be a leader in the Civil Rights and poor people’s struggle in America.

He heard of the struggle of the black garbage workers in Memphis for equal rights and pay with their white colleagues.  He came to assist in the struggle against the advice of his advisors.

The night before he was assassinated, he preached a prophetic sermon telling the folk, we would one day reach the promised land of racial equality.  God had given him that vision.  But he did not know if he would make it with them.  But he felt a peace about that.

So, we know the next day when this prophet of non-violence protest was killed, he died with the peace of God in his heart, because he knew he was doing God’s will.

Let’s listen to the words of William Alexander Percy one more time.

They cast their nets in Galilee, just off the hills of brown

Such happy fisher folk before the Lord came down.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail

Homeless in Patmos died.

Peter who hauled the teemed net,

Head down was crucified.

The peace of God.  it is no peace.

But strife closed in the sod.

Yet family pray for just one thing

The marvelous peace of God.

Amen.

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