The church …
The way of peace …
Luke 19:37-44 –
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’
He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
Jesus says and teaches a lot in this passage, but I want to focus on two statements he makes:
- “If these were silent, the stones would shout out!”
- “If you – even you – had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!”
These two emphatic statements by Christ, our Lord cause me to stop in my tracks this morning as I consider who I – as a follower of Jesus – am called to be in the here and now – in my own context. And, as I consider this for myself, I must also look within and ask “What have I missed? Have I said, “Tell them to be silent?” “Whose voices have I not heard?” “What are the things that make for peace that have gone unrecognized by me?”
If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, and identify as people of God – the church of Jesus Christ – then, I believe we must also ask these questions of ourselves through the lens of the body of Christ.
What have we missed?
Have we said, “Tell them to be silent?”
Whose voices have we not heard?
What are the things that make for peace that have gone unrecognized by us?
These questions begin with me – and you … and then we can look at the church – but we must begin with ourselves.
My mother taught me that hospitality begins at home;
she taught me to look within for what needs to be corrected in my own life first and foremost,
and to then look to correct places and spaces and tables that I can influence.
My mom was known as “Mrs. Hospitality” in her community – but most especially in her church – First Presbyterian, Conway, Arkansas, where she was a member and very active for over 50 years. She was the primary greeter each and every Sunday morning. She was ordained as a Deacon when she was 80 years of age – truly a recognition of the ministry she was already doing.
And, while Mom’s genuine hospitality was well known and much beloved … who she was at her core was a woman who knew that she was beloved by God and that she was called to share the same unconditional love with every single person she met – with the same genuine hospitality that Jesus shared with every single person he met.
With Mom, there was no one who ever heard her say, “be silent.”
With Mom, there were no voices not heard.
With Mom, she knew the things that made for peace – and she lived them out every day.
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
(John 13:34-35, 14:27)
We may think it hard to listen to all the voices, to welcome everyone to the table, to recognize and then live out the things that make for peace, but Jesus assures us that we do not have to do any of the work of his ministry alone, for – just as he promised – he has sent us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. So, let us turn to the Holy Spirit, seeking wisdom and guidance, strength and perseverance, for the race that Jesus has called us to run – looking for the things that make for peace all around us, seeking to hear every voice that is speaking or shouting – what are they saying – what do we need to hear – are the questions we must ask ourselves – as individuals – and as the church – the followers of Christ, our Lord.
Let there be peace on earth – and let it begin with each one of us who claim to be his.
“Let There Be Peace on Earth”
Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me;
let there be peace on earth,
the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father [and mother]
brothers [and sisters] all are we,
let me walk with my siblings
in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me
let this be the moment now;
with every step I take
let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment
in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins