Sermon, May 26, 2019 by Rev Gloria Christian
John 14: 23-29
John 5: 1-9
During the time between Easter and Pentecost, the disciples were living between memory and hope; Memory of Jesus walking with them, healing and hope for the promise of peace within a life filled with regret and turmoil and fear in their troubled world. During our in-between times of memories past and hope for the future, peace is so important to find. Peace is a state of mind when our hearts are not troubled, and we are not afraid of what is to come. How do we find peace in such times? Sometimes life turns us upside down and inside out. We may be worried about family concerns, health issues, problems at school for our grand-children, or any number of troubling events in the world today. How can we find personal peace in a troubled world? Whether our lack of peace comes from events outside our control or from things we can influence and change, here are some ideas to help us find peace.
If we focus on the big picture; it’s easier to see that short-term worries will heal. If we focus on the big picture, of happiness to come, we can find peace in knowing that what hurts right now won’t last forever and we can let go of control. When something outside our control takes away peace, it’s tempting to feel hopeless or angry. It doesn’t help to linger on things we can’t change. Instead, draw closer to God to find inner peace even when life deals us a bad hand. Have you noticed that when you are at prayer that peace is wrapped around you? Often, the hardest thing to let go of is the negativity we feel when someone wrongs us. We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others. As a result, the Spirit will fill our souls with the joy accompanying divine peace. Turning to God in prayer can help us be free of emotional burdens of guilt and regret and be filled with peace.
Peace, after all, would mean the cessation of all this conflict, the end of all this turmoil, the conclusion of all our waiting and wanting and worrying. Right?
I wonder. I mean, I’ve usually thought of peace as the absence of something negative — the absence of war, or strife, or fear, or anger. And, indeed, the first definition in the dictionary corroborates this view: “peace: freedom from disturbance.” But it occurs to me on reading and re-reading Jesus’ words to the disciples that maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe peace isn’t an absence of something, but instead is its own presence. Maybe peace is something, all on is own. Maybe it creates something positive, makes something wonderful possible, not just curtails something negative. Maybe this is what Jesus means by saying, “My peace I give to you. I do not give it as the world gives.”
Water is a source of peace and healing for the folks at Jerusalem by the churning pool; the spirit of water bringing life. God, water and healing; God trickling through our lives as in a dream unfolding, promising revival and rebirth like a healing stream. Spirit water comes to nourish us. Spirit water, a love deep and wide; God working in our hearts to shape tomorrow. Like a churning pool; like a gentle rain; like a healing stream, bringing peace to us. These are the visions of Bruce Harding as we sing, “Like a Healing Stream”.
Jim Hannah writes of living water giving us birth, for living water sings and brings the love that makes our spirits grow. Living water makes us free. Peace comes when we are free and loved. Life is an amazing journey; we experience epic highs, crushing lows and of course all things in between. Life moves us fast, and it is important to hit the pause button every now and then so we can celebrate successes and contemplate those times when we need to adjust our course. When I need to hit pause, I almost always gravitate to the water’s edge. There is something so peaceful about sitting or walking along the edge of a river or ocean, camera in hand, completely alone in my thoughts. Sometimes I am taking the time to quietly celebrate a success, sometimes I am taking time to work through something that I am struggling with and other times, I am simply tweaking plans for an event. I benefit from alone time with my thoughts. The older I get the more I realize how important it is to be at peace with myself and the world around me; how important it is to do the things that nurture our mind, revitalize our body and rejuvenate our Soul.
May we not forget how to be human. May we not forget what it means to be alive, and feel alive. May we not forget how to value and treasure this beautiful and precious gift that is called life. May we not forget how to enjoy and make the best of the present moment, the only moment that truly exists. May we not be so busy chasing after all sort of things, things that we believe will make us happy; living in a constant state of waiting – waiting for something magical to happen, waiting for our lives to begin, that we completely ignore the present moment for this is where peace is found.
I have a friend, Anne, who says, there’s this magical island in Thailand called Koh Lipe and she honestly tells us that in that place she has met the wealthiest people alive. People whom some of us might call poor just because of the conditions they live in, and because they don’t have as much money and beautiful things as some of us do. But she says, in their presence, she felt poor. And you know why? Because she realized that material possessions, money and all these things we perceive as wealthy aren’t wealthy at all. They are just things that have no value except to the one we give to them. In their presence, she realized that true wealth consists in having peace, love, joy, and bliss run through your veins. True wealth consists in having a heart that is overflowing with love, love that is flooding the places around you, making all things and all people shine brighter and brighter. And when we have these things, then we can call ourself a wealthy person.
In Thailand she learned that each and every one of us needs to start caring more about feeling at peace, feeling content, feeling love and feeling alive, than we do about doing more and having more. And if we do this, then we will all go back to feeling fully alive. We will all go back to feeling refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated, and the world around us will do the exact same thing. Because this world is us. Amen