“Finding Peace” – part 4
Text: Romans 15: 5 – May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus.
As you are probably aware, we have been involved for the last few weeks on a sermon series around the idea of peace. I have introduced to you some thoughts and ideas about this topic, asking an important question, for example, “do you want to win, or do you want peace?” We have talked about the text where Jesus claims to offer us peace, but then reminds us that he gives us peace, not as the world gives – and we have explored some ideas around that concept as well. In general, I think it is safe to say that we have discovered that often the world gives an illusion of peace and Jesus offers the real deal. Last week I spoke some about our own egos and how the ego can create a constant feeling of insecurity or lack that creates a gap in our thinking between what is and what we think we want. This constant feeling of lack creates anxiety and frustration which is the lack of peace.
Today, I want to get a little more proactive. It’s one thing to talk about finding peace and to theorize about some of the ways we might find peace, but it is another thing altogether to actually go do it. Today I want to offer some ideas on concrete, tangible things we can do to find peace.
A few months ago, as you might remember, I had total knee replacement surgery. Before the surgery I met with the surgeon and his assistant and they showed me an actual model of the kind of new knee I was going to receive. They explained how it worked, let me play with it for a few minutes and then they even gave me a brochure that extolled all the wonderful virtues of this new knee. I may still have that brochure somewhere, but I’m not sure.
Shortly after surgery and I mean very shortly, I began physical therapy. There were a couple of exercises designed to maintain and increase the flexibility of my new knee. Some of these exercises were not my favorite thing; as a matter of fact it hurt like crazy. I remember thinking during one of my physical therapy appointments that “this wasn’t in the brochure”!
When we begin to think about peace, sometimes the specifics are not necessarily in the brochure. Even when they are, the meaning can be ambiguous and we need to unpack the meaning at times to gain a clear picture of what that really looks like for us today in the 21st century. For example, the brochure tells us in the text I read a few minutes ago, to live in harmony with one another. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Live in harmony why should that be
It’s not difficult until we are challenged at a personal level. That is we are given a choice to choose harmony over our own personal preference. Let me say that again; it is not difficult until we have to choose harmony over our own personal
Let me see if I can explain this idea in greater detail. For some reason I am not a very adventuresome eater; truth be told, there are some foods that actually scare me. I don’t like special sauces, or strong spices, I don’t like ketchup or mustard or relish or onions or pretty much anything like that on my hamburger for example. I like the meat and the cheese and the bun – and that’s it. When I order a burger in a restaurant or a fast food place, I have to be very specific about how I want my burger. Even though I have been very specific, quite often, the burger shows up with something unexpected on it. This frustration has been with me my entire
It would be very easy to get really upset at the wait staff, for example, when my burger arrives at the table with the chef’s surprise sauce all over it. Even though I want it corrected, I still have a choice to choose harmony over my preference at that time. My preference may be to let all the years of frustration out on one poor server and come completely unglued; but generally, I don’t do that. Rather, I choose to remain calm and explain as nicely as I can that I really need a new
Now I recognize that this isn’t really a big deal. It is just a hamburger after all. If I had to get through the evening without eating anything, I would still survive and perhaps even be better off for the experience. But I bring this up in this way because it represents something that I do think is important. What is important is the idea that if we can learn to choose harmony in the trivial matters, it becomes easier to choose harmony when the stakes are higher. In other words, if we can learn to choose harmony when someone steals our parking place or when the person in front of us at the express check-out lane obviously can’t count to 10 or the person at the DMV couldn’t possibly take any longer-if we can learn to choose harmony in those situations, then when it really matters, it becomes
A few years ago there was a movie released called “We Were Soldiers” and it was about the Vietnam War, you may remember seeing it advertised. At one point in the movie something happens which I think is a powerful example of what I am talking about. At the risk of needing to offer a spoiler alert, I want to tell you about what I see happening in this scene before we actually watch it. That way, you can watch for it as well and recognize it when it takes
The first thing I want you to watch for is the choice that is made. Our main character in this scene chooses harmony, even though her first reaction was to be upset. The second thing I want you to watch for is how her actions bring peace. I believe it is Gandhi that is credited with saying you must become the change you want to see in the world; and I believe the same thing is true about peace. You must become the peace you seek in the world. The third thing I want you to watch for is the peace which is offered, doesn’t fix the situation, it only helps to make peace with what is. That relates directly to what we were exploring last week; the concept of making peace with what
Let’s watch the clip from the movie “We Were
I think this is a powerful example of what it looks like to become the peace you seek in the world. I think this is a powerful example of the proactive nature of the prayer of St. Francis, where the prayer speaks of sowing love and understanding and asking God to make us an instrument of God’s peace. These women were instruments of God’s peace. I think it is also critical for us to understand that the brave actions of the two women in our movie clip were not trying to fix anything; they could not bring the fallen husbands back to life. Rather, their ministry was around trying to make peace with what
I wanted to close today with just one more look at the Prayer of St. Francis. I think you may experience this prayer a little differently and look at it through new eyes and find new meaning in the words. Will you join me now in the Prayer of St. Francis?
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.