At peace with ourselves – with the world.

Easter 2 – 2015
John 20:19-31
Marian Free

In the name of God who gives us all that we need, if only we were ready to accept what God has to give. Amen.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you that the news is full of bad news stories. This morning for example , I woke to the news that in my own city, less than twenty miles from my home, a man of fifty-five had been killed – his neighbour was upset by the amount of noise that he was making. Later in the day, I heard that a young woman had been arrested for the murder of her father-in-law (her husband having already been arrested for the same offense). The newspaper provided an update on the man who had nearly killed his brother, by knocking him to the ground after they had visited a nightclub together and there was also a report on the guilty verdict for the “Boston bomber”. I could go on – the litany of crimes committed in anger, frustration, greed or need for power is just appalling.

Despite Jesus’ resurrection gift to the disciples, peace and harmony seem to be illusive even on the domestic front. The problem of course, lies with us – with the very human needs to be in control, to feel important and to put ourselves first.

What that means is that as long as there are people who are filled with anger and insecurity; as long as people feel entitled to do what they want and to behave how they want to behave; as long as there are some who are so concerned with their own comforts and own desires that they are able to disregard the concerns and interests of their neighbours: as long as some are filled with self-doubt: as long as there are some who feel that the world owes them something; there will be people who will resent any attempt to limit or curtain their activity, those who vent their fury in violent actions; those who seek to build their own prosperity with little or no regard for the cost to those who labour makes them rich or to consequences for the environment or the wider society and there will be those who will seek to diminish others in order to prove themselves smarter, better, stronger.

It is all too easy to imagine that such people are very different from ourselves – that we are above such petty, nasty, aggressive behaviour. But I wonder, are we really so different? Are we, those who profess the faith, perfect examples of the peace that Jesus gives? When others look at us, do they see our deep contentment with life our satisfaction with who we are and what we have? Are we so secure in our (God created) selves that we have no need to fill our emptiness with possessions, achievements or comparisons with others? Do others looks at us and see in us anything that separates ourselves/our lives from their own? Do we really stand out from the world around us?

Let me be clear that I have enormous respect for members of the Parishes in which I have served. Their life and their faith has often challenged my own. In general though, I suspect that too few of us find our meaning entirely in Jesus, that not enough of us seek above all that peace which only Jesus can give and that not all of us really believe that we can trust God with every aspect of our lives.

For the world to be a better place we would all need to find our meaning, our hope, our security and our peace in the Trinity – in God our Creator, Jesus our Redeemer and the Spirit our enlivener. As long as we look elsewhere we will not be at peace and our striving, our frustration, our fears and our anxieties will be taken out on others (intentionally or otherwise).

As I write this, the words of a well-known hymn are repeating themselves in my head:

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace,
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm,
O still small voice of calm. John Greenleaf Whittier

May we together seek the beauty of that peace which Jesus alone can offer, and in relinquishing our striving to be other than who we are, find our true selves and know the presence of God there.

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