By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday, August 26, 2018, we continue our Via Positiva theme of Yes! In Deed! exploring the various ways that we can embody our “Yes!” our “Oh, Yeah” in the world.
We used music from Elvis Costello to learn how we can learn how to take peace, love and understanding seriously in a world that laughs at them.
From the Hebrew Scriptures: Jeremiah 23: 23-29: Is not my word like fire …
From the Jesus Story: Luke 12: 49-53: I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.
From A Course in Miracles, Manual for Teachers: Peace is impossible to those who look on war.
Song used in the sermon: What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding – Elvis Costello
In our Jesus story, we find our guy saying things we might find downright “un-Jesusy.”
“I came to bring fire to the earth,” he says in today’s reading, “and how I wish it were already kindled!
I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”
Whoa, that’s a lot to take in from a guy we call “The Prince of Peace.” But, let’s consider our definition of peace. To the ego, peace is simply a time when tensions have ceased to be active – not when tensions have ceased to exist. For the ego, an uneasy peace is just enough peace, because, in reality, the ego thrives on attack. If the ego can keep us blaming other people for our problems, or government institutions or societal systems, then it can keep us seeing ourselves as victims who are oppressed by others.
Peace for the ego, in this instance, is merely the absence of hostility. We all play nice and hopefully, most of us will get our way and create a comfortable life. Those who don’t, or aren’t allowed to live in peace? Well, it’s their own fault for not creating a better life for themselves!
The ego likes this kind of peace, but then Jesus shows up and starts to offer the real deal – the peace that passes all understanding – the peace that isn’t based on an easing of tension, but the elimination of all tension through the capital-R reality of love and forgiveness.
And this is where all hell breaks loose because that’s the last kind of peace our ego wants. Our ego needs war and fear and violence, so when we get a whiff of the true peace our higher self has to offer, then all of its tenuous peace treaties are off – and the real battle for our soul begins.
You’ve all seen this happen in your life before. There’s that moment when you give up all sweets – and what’s in the break-room at work every day? Donuts. There’s that moment when you decide you’re finally going to diet and exercise and all hell breaks loose in your schedule and all that is soon forgotten. Or, there’s that moment when you decide once and for all you’re going to do your inner spiritual work and seek that true peace that passes all understanding – and war breaks out in your life – in your relationships, your job, your family, your friends.
This is what Jesus is talking about. He hasn’t come to bring us the false peace of the ego. He’s come to bring us the true peace from the Divine – a peace that has no tension, no attack, no peace treaties or concessions – and the ego cannot abide it and will fight it with all it has.
But, here’s the good news, Jubilants, when we the world is divided and at war, when families are torn apart, when nations attack other nations and friends are at odds, this is the precise moment that we must become the peace we seek. All of these disruptive events need to be recognized for what they are – a call for love – an opportunity for a miracle. If we can see the unrest in the world around us as a call for love – then we can respond.
We don’t need to get rid of all of our worldly possessions and start a trek across the country. Instead, we can walk down the street and meet that neighbor, talk to that person on the other side of the political or religious spectrum and seek to create God’s peace right where we are in every present moment.
“We people of the world,” said Peace Pilgrim, “need to find ways to get to know one another – for then we will recognize that our likenesses are so much greater than our differences, however great our differences may seem.” And that’s no laughing matter.