By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
Welcome back to the Covenant blog! Every Tuesday through Advent (and beyond?) we’ll put out a quick reflection on the sermon from the previous Sunday. Someday in the future you’ll know this intuitively, but in the meantime I’ll keep explaining what will soon be self-evident.
Last Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, we talked about Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here when I say that we often get peace very wrong in our society. Everyone gets along, then we’re all at peace, right? Except we know that peace is not the absence of conflict. Just because it seems like everyone’s getting along, doesn’t mean we have an actual peace. This is where I find Jesus’ words to be particularly helpful from this week’s scripture:
John 14:27: 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.
How does Jesus' peace differ from the world’s peace? When I think of this peace – peace beyond what the world gives – I think of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which he says “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."
These words are convicting. They are powerful. They make me uncomfortable. And I think about them all the time.
When we think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, we need to remember that the peace that he brought led to him being executed for blasphemy and sedition. The path to Christ’s peace leads us to some dangerous ground, requires sacrifice, and involves confessing those places in which we participate in the absence of peace. We need to devote ourselves to Christ’s peace, and in doing so we need to recognize that we may need to create some waves. It may feel less peaceful in the short term, but that short-term thinking leads to the peace that the world gives, which is merely peace for those with power and suffering for those without. In the long term, agitating for peace will lead us to discover a positive peace, and celebrate the presence of justice among us.
“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."
Let’s not be afraid to pursue this peace. Let us go forward knowing that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, walks with us; helping us to walk the difficult path towards true peace, knowing that this is the path of justice, of love and of truth.
This week during Advent, take some time to think about what it is that keeps us from experiencing true peace. How can you put yourself out there to make peace? How can the Prince of Peace help inspire you towards peace as we continue our Advent journey?
Peace be with you all!
Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline