Saturday, May 04, 2013

Not as the world gives...8.00 homily for Easter 6

My peace I leave you...not as the world gives
Sometimes in reading the gospels it seems there may be some particularly careful editing going on. We need always to remember that the gospel writers were working in specific contexts, seeking to communicate the Good News of Christ to particular communities with particular agendas...They told the truth, as they understood it, and in ways that would be helpful to their target audience. And it seems time this might be one occasion when John chose his words particularly carefully.
Remember John includes these word as as part of Jesus farewell discourse...and after all the talk of peace, a bloody, painful death is on the way. Already there are murmurings of disapproval. Even at the time, the disciples themselves were surely aware that Peace and Jesus didn't often seem to fit into the same sentence. This was the man who had overturned tables, and driven people out of the Temple using a whip of cords – scarcely the action of a pacifist. He had repeatedly challenged the great and good, taken on the religious authorities on their own terms, courted controversy in all directions. Yet here the farewell gift he offers is you can almost hear John, in editorial mode thinking – Help...we need a quick explanatory note...Peace – but not as the world gives
When Jesus says doesn't mean a trouble free life...not for him, not for his disciples and nor for the young Christian churches for whom John writes.
I'm afraid it doesn't mean a trouble free life for us, either.
Peace - Not as the world gives...Not peace by the pool in a luxury Indian hotel where young children slave behind the scenes...
Not peace that allows you to ignore the Big Issue seller as you dive into Costa for a flat white...
Not peace that stays silent in the face of racism, fascism, injustice, violence... DARE politicians feel they can take "Christian values" as a shorthand for all that is safe and cosy, another version of motherhood and apple pie? Don't they realise – don't WE realise - that if we're serious in our discipleship, we Christians should find ourselves running up against the powers that be again and again and again?
I would imagine that well nigh every minister trained to preach is told at some point “If you don't offend someone with your preaching every time you go into the pulpit you probably aren't preaching the gospel” but it's tempting to opt for the quiet life, for safe popularity achieved by steering clear of the tough areas. I'm not very head's natural position is well below the parapet but...Jesus offers this gift to us too
My peace I leave you...not as the world gives”

Listen to these words by the writer Cornelius Plantinga, defining “Shalom” - the peace that Jesus offers.The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

The peace that we're offered is won through the cross and has nothing to do with easy tranquility, achieved at the cost of our principles...It's a brave peace – an uncompromising peace – a peace that demands much of us if we're to truly claim it.
So – may I share with you a prayer attributed, perhaps surprisingly, to Sir Francis DrakeWhether he wrote it or not, it offers us a challenge if we're tempted by the easy life
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Dare we pray this..?
Dare we trust in the extra-ordinary peace that we are offered...a peace that has deep roots in the unchanging reality of God's non negotiable love and justice...?
Dare we put ourselves on the line, knowing that though things may not go smoothly here and now, the One who shares His peace with us has overcome the world and inaugurated the Kingdom?
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid.

No comments: