Tuesday, April 27, 2021

On a hillside 18) B7 Group peace on the outside.


This Easter event expresses group peace on the OUTSIDE by the extraordinary other commission of Jesus.  I say 'other' because the most famous commission at the end of Matthew's gospel in which Jesus sends out disciples into all the world to make disciples does not stand alone. John 20 shows another commission:  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.  And with that he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven.  It looks like a mini-Pentecost before Pentecost. Here, Jesus breathes on them the Holy Spirit – the breath of resurrection life, of peace, love, and forgiveness.  They share in his mission, as the Father sent me, I am sending you.  It has immense authority - not, of course to forgive sins themselves but to declare God's forgiveness. It's all about peace-making as bringers of good news about God’s forgiveness.  Blessed are the empowered peacemakers.

Now outside their fellowship they are to be active peacemakers.  One text that really sticks with me as so important for OUTSIDE peace-making is Romans 12: 18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.   Notice how practical this is. There are circumstances outside your control and mine. Some have more influence. Prince Philip died in the week that I preached this and I was interested that the i newspaper editorial listed his many roles and at the top it had: war hero, loyal consort, peacemaker behind Palace doors. Well, for most of us influence is more limited. But we do have some influence. We live in a series of concentric circles and the further you move from the center of your own orbit the less influence you have. But there are many relationships and situations where it does depend on you. Close by. At the centre is home where you maybe single or live with family members; around that circle is the extended family; then church family; then neighbours. In all those areas we do have opportunity to be peacemakers.  Further is our work place, our community around, our nation and the international sphere.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 

As I wrote last time this beatitude is demanding.  David Head wrote a books of prayers for the natural man – very self-centred prayers!  Like this: I pray for the relations with whom I have been encumbered. I should hardly have chosen a single one of them. Help me to find some good in them, however difficult a job that may be. Don’t let me see too much of any of them. Let the occasional duty visit be brief and bearable. Lord what selfish, thoughtless, jealous, difficult and presumptuous people most of my neighbours are. May I be rewarded for my patience with them by finding that they are all of use to me.

Jesus the Peacemaker calls us to join him in a better mission - to be peacemakers wherever its possible. .

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