“Peace to You My Friend” Thursday- December 15, 2005, †
Scripture: Matthew 9:35;10:1; 10:6-8
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
The Spirit of Advent is still upon us. And as we free Christians continue to pray with hopeful expectations in our hearts for the true day of peace and freedom to come for all mankind, across the oceans in Iraq a historic day is taking place. In a land where evil not only once ruled it was accepted as a normal way of life because the people were too afraid to fight back, today about two-thirds of the 15 million registered voters were expected to participate in the voting process; there were even early signs Sunni Arab voters choosing to embrace the political process they once were not welcomed to. It is reported that voters participation came amid curfews, bulked-up security, border closings, road closures and traffic bans across the country. In some cases, voters had to take long walks to get to polls. And though there is bound to be pockets of violent outbreaks here and there across polling stations, our US and allied military men and women are asked to be present to provide the voters of Iraq the highest level of security and protection. This is to be “the beginning of our new life,” exclaims a poll worker.
What a beautiful irony it is that Iraq’s first full parliament election is taking place during the second half of the Advent Season, the half where our focus is shifted from the pass and placed on the future glory days to come when we shall all be given a new life. Be it a coincidence that things were planned to fall in this order, or that it was intentionally planned by someone – it is hard to ignore the meaning and symbolism behind these two events lining up together. As one nation prays for the day of peace another nation takes a small step towards peace. And as we watch these events unfold before us, it is hard not to reflect upon the teachings of Christ who said to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” (John 14:27). Jesus wished us peace in our lives and He wanted to give peace to anyone who would follow Him. But to give peace to those who would receive it from Christ was not enough for Jesus – He wanted all humanity to have peace. He wanted us to give our gift of peace to one another.
In the violent times that we are living in today it is hard to grasp the desires of Jesus. How would any restless nation bring another violent nation peace? The realities of war is never an easy thing for anyone to take, most of all the families of the soldiers, of the volunteers and charity workers, and the families of innocent by standers who become a part of war’s scenery. When we here in the US see images of our young service men and women risking their lives and loosing their lives in a land that is so far away from home, for a people that we don’t even know, for causes that we don’t always understand it is hard for us to accept the continuation of this travesty. Our constant desire is to preserve our own and bring them back home safe and sound. Or better yet, perhaps we feel we should have never put our military in evil’s way from the beginning. With each day that the war is drawn out, and with each additional US life that the war takes like others I also find myself wanting more than ever to bring all of our troops back home immediately. But when I saw the events of today, and as I reflected upon the Gospel I had to ask myself is that what God would want us to do? Would He want us to selfishly preserve our own good fortunes, good life, and good freedom while we watched other human beings suffer?
In the Book of Mathew 10:1, Jesus commissioned His disciples to carry on the works which He did – to speak God's word and to bring His healing power to the weary and oppressed. Jesus said to His disciples: Freely you have received, freely give. What they had received from Jesus (all free of charge) they must now pass on to others without expecting any kind of payment or reward. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is God, not material gain, or self preservation. How relevant are Jesus’ words still today?
We should have no doubt that Christ’s words are still very much relevant today; it is only the people and events in history that are different. Today we may not be asked directly by Jesus to go out and cure the sick and we are not given the divine powers to bring the dying back to life. However, some of us have received God’s gifts of peace, blessings, talents, good fortune and good health and in the same manner Jesus would want us to go out proclaim the Word of God and share God’s gifts of peace with one another. At the individual level we can help our neighbors or the less fortunate in our community. At the national level we can help oppressed nations move towards peace. Would these actions not translate to what Jesus’ disciples did for Him during their time?
Isaiah foretold that God's kingdom would overcome sorrow and adversity and bring true peace and prosperity to God's people. Jesus understood his mission to bring the kingdom in all its fullness to us. The core of the gospel message is quite simple: the kingdom or reign of God is imminent! The kingdom of heaven is available to those who are ready to receive it. We cannot buy heaven; but if we accept the love and mercy of Jesus we already possess heaven in our hearts! The Lord brings his kingdom or heavenly reign to those who receive him with faith and obedience. When the Lord returns in his glory he will fully restore his kingdom of everlasting peace and justice. There are many evils in this world which frightens us and makes us want to pull back into our shell and not reach out to one another to help and to comfort. But Scripture writes, “3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Let us pray to the Lord to keep our spirits committed, humble and steadfast in His ways. May He always comfort us in our hours of darkness and despair so that we may comfort one another.
May the love and peace of this Holy Season be in your heart always!
I am so touched by your article. Your tenderness and peace-filled heart leaps off the page and begs my spirit to remember the words of our Savior regarding love, peace, and joy.
His blessed peace and joy and love be yours always. I was especially blessed by your testimony regarding your past tribulations. You and yours will be remembered in my prayers. What a brave, grace-filled spirit you are!