HEBREW BIBLE LESSON Psalm 85
EPISTLE LESSON II Peter 3:8-18
SERMON: “Grant Us Peace”
As I read the first verses in today’s reading from II Peter I am reminded of the story about a man who approached God & asked Him, “Lord, up in heaven how much time is a million years?” “Well,” God said, “a million years is but a second in heaven.”
“Oh!” said the man, “and up in heaven how much money is a million dollars?” “Well,” said God, “a million dollars is only a penny in heaven.” “Great!” said the man. “God, give me one of your pennies.” “All right,” said the heavenly Father. “Just wait a second.”
We have a tendency to be an impatient people. When we pray for God to grant us peace, we want God to do it now! Not in a thousand years; this week would be great, but we’ll take next week if we have to.
Besides pondering this scripture, and the fact that today is World Communion Sunday and Peacemaking Sunday, I’ve been working on a Marilynn Ham arrangement of a song I learned as a child, “Dona Nobis Pacem.” There’s another area for my impatience to show up. I would love to be able to sight read as well as Micki does, but alas – it’s just not my gift. So again and again and again I have played this repetitive tune:
My time at the piano is also in part prayer time. As the arrangement itself repeats the theme 4, 5, perhaps 6 times, I could feel the Spirit saying to me, “It’s not enough to ask for peace. Disciples of the Lord are called to be Peacemakers in this world. We can sing “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Give Us Peace) a million times but God has shown us consistently that it is God’s choice to work through people.
God worked through Noah, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God worked through David and Solomon. God worked through the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and more. And God worked through Jesus, the disciples and the Apostle Paul. And God works through us.
Migan McKenna gives us a parable, of a woman who wanted peace in the world and peace in her heart, but was very frustrated. The world seemed to be falling apart. She would read the papers and get depressed.
One day she decided to go shopping, and she went into a mall and picked a store at random. She walked in and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter. She knew it was Jesus because he looked just like the pictures she’d seen on holy cards and devotional pictures. She finally got up her nerve and asked, Excuse me, are you Jesus?
Do you work here?
No, I own the store.
Oh, what do you sell here?
Just about everything, Jesus said. Feel free to walk up and down the aisles, make a list, see what it is you want and then come back and we’ll see what we can do for you.
She did just that, walked up and down the aisles. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, peace in families, no more drugs, harmony, clean air, careful use of resources. She wrote furiously. By the time she got back to the counter, she had a long list. Jesus took the list, skimmed through it, looked up at her and smiled. No problem. And then he bent down behind the counter and picked out all sorts of things, stood up and laid out the packets. She asked, “What are these?”
Seed packets, Jesus said. This is a catalog store.
She said, “You mean I don’t get the finished product?”
No, this is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them to grow and someone else reaps the benefits.
Oh, she said. And she left the store without buying anything.
Peace with God. Dona Nobis Pacem. (Give us peace.)
We want peace in the world Dona Nobis Pacem.
Peace with others Dona Nobis Pacem.
Peace with ourselves Dona Nobis Pacem.
Both the most difficult and the most helpful place to start.
Peacemakers release tension; they don’t intensify it. Peacemakers seek solutions and find no delight in arguments. Peacemakers calm the waters; they don’t trouble them. Peacemakers work hard to keep an offense from occurring. And if it has occurred, they strive for resolution. Peacemakers lower their voice rather than raise their voice. Peacemakers generate light not heat.
What kind of people ought we to be? We ought to live holy and godly lives, we ought to make an effort to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we come to the Table this morning, remember that God has done God’s part to bring us to peace with him, by sending his own Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved – made right with God – through him.
February 16, 1989, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, George and Vera Bajenksi’s lives were changed forever. A very normal Thursday morning. The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. “There’s been an accident...” It involved their son Ben.
As they approached the intersection of Adelaide and Simcoe Streets near the high school, they could see the flashing lights of the police cars and ambulance units. Vera noticed a photographer and followed the direction of his camera lens to the largest pool of blood she had ever seen.
All she could say was, “George, Ben went home--home to be with his Heavenly Father!” Her first reaction was to jump out of the car, somehow collect the blood and put it back into her son. “That blood, for me, at that moment, became the most precious thing in the world because it was life. It was life-giving blood and it belonged in my son, my only son, the one I loved so much.”
The road was dirty and the blood just didn’t belong there. George noticed that cars were driving right through the intersection--right through the blood. His heart was smitten. He wanted to cover the blood with his coat and cry, “You will not drive over the blood of my son!” Then Vera understood for the first time in her life, one of God’s greatest and most beautiful truths...why blood? Because it was the strongest language God could have used. It was the most precious thing He could give-- the highest price.
He shed his own blood for our souls – to give us peace.