P – God of POWER and might,
break through hardened hearts,
and chase away all the hate.
E – EVERLASTING Father,
open wide Your gentle arms,
and heal all our hurts.
A – ALL knowing and holy God,
teach us to love one another,
so the heart is what we will cherish.
C – CREATOR God,
restore broken relationships,
and rebuild communities now torn apart.
E – Giver of ETERNAL life,
may the love of Jesus shine brightly in us,
and may hope calm our restless hearts.
The waves are monstrous,
The wind is fierce,
And my feeble little boat is no match for this storm.
I try and try, but I make no head way.
I fight and battle but continue to lose ground.
And the storm rages on.
The storm wants to lay claim to this boat –
to bring it down into the deep.
It fights and threatens.
It claws and bites,
and my feeble little boat is no match for this storm.
Jesus, where are you?!?
Wait — you are right here,
in my feeble little boat.
You are right here with me,
as the storm rages on.
Now I am at peace.
Now I can be still and know –
for nothing can touch me
as long as Jesus is in the boat with me –
in this feeble, broken down, little boat.
The storm rages on,
but it will never claim me,
not with Jesus in my boat.
It is the second Sunday of Advent and thus our focus word is Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace for he is the manifestation of the kingdom of God. Jesus is our hope. Jesus is our life. Jesus is our salvation. Feeling peaceful? That is an understatement 🙂
Oh God, there is no question in our hearts or minds that it is right and salutary to give You and You alone praise and worship at all times and in all places. It is right because Your kingdom has happened. It has happened through the birth of Jesus Christ and was solidified through the cross and empty tomb. You destroyed hopelessness. You calmed the chaos. You crushed the head of the deceiver. You banished the darkness. You have bound the forces of evil. Though we are sinners, You are faithful. Though we are weak, You are strong. Though we wander like sheep, You retrieve us for You are the Good Shepherd. Holy Father, we are so joyful because of the Prince of Peace and for this reason we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.
The following is the opening paragraph from the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, December 8 — the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The theme is peace that only God can give through the birth of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior who is coming again.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Matthew 3:2]
Those are the words of Jesus as he prepares his disciples for this eventual departure – a death they do not and can not understand right now. But it is a death that will usher in the peace that Jesus is leaving with them ~ for he is the Prince of Peace as prophesized through Isaiah. It is a peace that goes beyond comprehension. It is a peace that can not be manufactured, copied or imitated. It is a peace that, really, can not even be imagined – only hoped for with complete confidence. And I say confidence because – well – Jesus left it and because God promised it long before the man, Jesus, came on the scene. We talk about peace, but rarely do we pursue it rightly. The world imagines a peace where wars cease, racism is eliminated, discrimination is gone. Governments try to legislate peace. Churches pass meaningless resolutions that claim to eradicate racism. Basically, they try to ban sin which cannot be done by humans. Shalom – the peace that Jesus brings is so much more and is only ushered in through Jesus and the arrival of God’s kingdom. Let our Adventing continue.
In the midst of chaos peace appears to be a mirage.
The closer I seem to get, the farther away it retreats.
Luring me away from reality.
Giving me false hope.
But then I find something – an oasis.
Peace – ahhh…
But this isn’t right.
This is not real peace.
And I’m not meant to stay in this oasis.
But I don’t want to leave.
Is there any real peace?
Jesus is not a mirage.
Jesus is not an oasis shielding me from reality.
Jesus is peace IN the chaos.
Peace – ahhh…
The Gospel text for today is Luke 12:49-56. My focus is on verse 51 where Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division. Actually, Jesus came to bring peace through division. More can be heard on our congregation’s website after the video of the sermon is posted.
So with that I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy with the Gospel text in mind. To God be the glory. Amen.
It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God. Through Jesus Christ You give us peace with You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit we are being remade. Your Word is life. Your Word is truth. Your Word pierces our soul and will one day divide us from this world as we stand before you purified and holy. Oh God, may we not be seduced by the allure of worldly peace. May it’s beckoning song be ignored. May its deceptive appearance be uncovered. Oh God, we give you thanks that Jesus was born to die that we could have hope and one day live peacefully with You without interruption. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. [Luke 12:51 ESV]
Seems like a strange thing for Jesus to say. After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace? Doesn’t he give peace that surpasses all understanding? When the disciples see him after his resurrection Jesus says, “Peace be with you“. So why would Jesus say something like this? Well, look carefully at what he says, Do you think that I have come to give peace ON EARTH? That’s the distinction. Here on earth, there will be division on account of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t come with the intent to divide people but rather knowing that the Gospel would do just that because people are sinners. In John 15, Jesus warned his disciples that if the world hates him they will hate them. And isn’t that the truth. Yet, many people are so afraid of division. Can’t we all just get along? I am all for getting along with people, but when it comes to the Gospel, we must stand firm. We must respect people. We must love people. We must listen to people. But when it comes to the Gospel, if division occurs, then so be it. It is better to be at odds with the world than with God. Amen? The Gospel will produce division. That we have seen, but don’t mistake what Jesus says. He IS still the Prince of Peace and he DOES give a peace that surpasses all understanding. Standing firm on God’s Word in Jesus name, you can have peace in the midst of division. May your witness then, bring peace to people who are at odds with the Gospel. Amen!
I post this evening blessing for you as a reminder as you prepare to retire for the day. I will be meditating on this shortly; before I fall asleep. There is so much swimming in my head by days end, that I just need something peaceful to reflect on as I drift off. May you find peace through this blessing.
May the peace of God through Jesus Christ comfort your weary soul.
May it soothe all you hurts.
May it calm all your fears.
May Your heavenly Father hold the Evil One at bay;
fighting the fight as you rest your tired body.
As you close your eyes and drift off to sleep this night,
may your final images be that of your Savior:
– Cradling you in his arms,
– Gazing into your eyes,
– Whispering once again his promises to you.
May these images fill you with peace so that your body can be restored for another day of showing the world the love of God.
Rest assured, child of God, that your Savior watches over you.
You are loved by your Father in heaven.
Rest with the knowledge that you are filled with His blessing.
You gather me in as a hen sheltering her brood under her loving wings.
You protect my life as a brave and fierce guard taking his post on the city wall.
You watch over me as loyal shepherd keeping watch over his sheep for the hungry wolves.
You hold me close as a nursing mother longingly gazing at her sleeping child.
Oh God, I will sleep in peace this night for You are with me. I commend myself to You. I am Yours. Amen.
Continuing with the theme of following Jesus, based on Luke 9:57-62, I wrote this communion liturgy for the Great Thanksgiving. One of the things that hit me as I wrote this is the reason that many hesitate in answering the call to follow Jesus: Peace. We try to create, secure and maintain our peace when all the while, Jesus himself is our peace. How quickly we forget.
It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to You, oh God, Creator and Father. Through Jesus Christ You call us to follow, but yet we often find ourselves timid or skeptical or too careful or worrisome about the path You have called us to walk. We often find ourselves over-analyzing in order to secure a sense of peace about making our decision. But how foolish we are for doing such a thing, for through Jesus Christ You have cleared the path and secured our future through his death and resurrection. You have defeated Your foes and have surrounded us with Your holy angels. You have redeemed our lives and thus You and You alone are our peace. May we leap when You call us to follow for through Jesus we have much about which to be excited and thankful. And so with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…