“Peace be with you”

“Peace be with you”

This morning we gather to celebrate the second Sunday of the Easter season.

As we do that, it feels to me as though Easter Sunday is but a dim memory fading away into the recent past.

We might say just as we put away all the left over Easter chocolate for safe keeping, we’ve been quick to return to our normal routines and church as usual.

Church ‘as usual’ for you, the people at Trinity since Easter Sunday has resumed at a breakneck pace.

Right here in this sanctuary, you have hosted two back to back memorial services and a Thanks Offering worship service including an education component around Operation Eyesight.

You’ve welcomed a Healing Pathways workshop in the chapel over the weekend that continues today.

Yesterday, a group of 16 folks from your Cultural Competency initiative gathered at the Sagebrush Theatre in Kamloops for the First Nations’ musical play “Children of God” by Cory Payette.

And, that’s only naming a few of the ways you are being called to live out your faith at the start of the 50 day season of Eastertide.

Here and now, I want to affirm for you that I am experiencing the risen Christ is at work in these ministries of pastoral care, Christian education, and social justice.

I hope you, too, can see it that way for yourselves

Coming now to our time of reflection this morning, we recall the good news of the empty tomb at Easter and the mysterious assurance that Jesus lives still.

Here at Easter we celebrate that what was once sealed is opened, once bound is freed, once breathless is now breathing, once silenced is now laughing, once broken is now whole, and once dead is now living.

This morning, our story from John’s gospel brings us face to face with what that will look like on the ground.

Safe from the reach of the religious authorities, the disciples gather together that first evening wondering just what to do next.

Here, we, along with eleven of the twelve disciples, find ourselves witness to the mystery of the Crucified Christ now standing among us.

Here, we discover firsthand that the past need not define the future.

Here, the risen Christ greets his followers with the words “Peace be with you”. These same words invite us, too, to lean in to the gift of this promise: his offering of the peace of Christ which passes all understanding.

Here, the risen Christ commissions those first followers to go out into the world preaching the good news of the forgiveness of sins.

Here, the risen Christ invites us, too, to do the same.

Here, the risen Christ empowers his followers into their mission in the world.

Just as the risen Christ breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples for their work in the world.

We, too, are empowered by that same Spirit.

Here, the risen Christ gives those first followers in the Way authority to act on his behalf.

Just so, we, too are invited to do the same.

Two thoughts about the reading immediately arise for me.

First, it’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?

It’s a lot to take in for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned earlier.

It’s also a lot to take in with your annual congregational meeting happening right after worship this morning.

It’s a lot to take in as we anticipate a service of closure, of de-covenanting, a letting go of ministry relationships with your lead minister next Sunday.

The other thought that kept bubbling up for me this was week was this:

What words of wisdom might we find here in the text to hold and sustain us today and in the days to come?

You see, as we come to together as the body of Christ this day, I find myself wondering if you come like I do.

Do you come seeking a moment’s peace?

Do you come seeking a chance to catch your collective breath, and just ‘be’ in the moment?

Do you come, like Thomas, needing proof that Jesus lives in a new and mysterious way?

Do you come as one who believes without needing proof?

Or, do you come as one who needs to hold the gospel at arm’s length?

How ever it is we’ve come here this day, the risen Christ offers us the gift of peace, no less than three times in this morning’s reading.

But it’s a gift of peace that is not passively content.

It’s a gift of peace that brings with it a sense of urgency about being called into God’s confusing and uncertain future.

It’s also a gift of peace that reminds us that the Crucified One will be with us and will sustain us in all situations and all circumstances.

As we anticipate the many important things before you as a congregation in transition, let us also remember that the past need not define the future.

Let us keep before us these words from John’s gospel heard this morning and hearkening back to his farewell words at the Last Supper:

“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.”

May these strong words and the peace of Christ that passes all understanding nourish and strengthen us here, now in this very moment, and in all the moments to come.   Alleluia and may it be so!

Rev. Liz Bowyer reserves all rights © 2018.
You are welcome to use, copy, edit or reproduce this sermon with copyright attached. Publication is prohibited.

Some resources considered in the development of this morning’s reflection:

  1. Prayer words adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence, A Publication of the United Church of Canada, 2003
  2. Preaching John, Fortress Resources for Preaching, Robert Kysar, Augsburg Fortress, 2002
  3. org/8174-kate_moorehead_peacei_got_this
  4. John 14: 27 Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Copyright, 1989, p. 2043