Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sermon for Pentecost 7: "Peace be to this House"

+ Pentecost 7 – July 3rd, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-10; Luke 10:1-20

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In the 1930’s “peace in our time” was the popular cliché. The 1960’s the cry was, “peace and love”. And the 1980’s made famous the phrase, “peace through strength”. What does today’s slogan of peace sound like? Peace and tolerance. Coexist. Or, as the great hymn writer, Axel Rose once sang, “Peace sells, but who’s buyin’?”

Even though it’s dimly lit and covered with more and more dirt every day, all our human attempts at peace are a window. As St. Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until we find our rest in Thee.” We want peace. We see a world, our communities, families and friends, and ourselves in need of peace. And yet we live in a restless world where peace is quickly becoming a word without meaning, a feeling without substance, and a quest without a goal. The kind of peace we seek in this life is illusive and often an illusion; we’re incapable of finding the very peace we need.

It’s into this kind of world that Jesus sends the 72 disciples. Not a utopia. But a broken, fallen world. A world that is the opposite of the Shalom, peace, wholeness, everything fulfilled and at rest that it was in Genesis.

Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.  Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you

Jesus gives the 72 his message: proclaim peace. They are ambassadors of the Prince of Peace. “Peace be with this house. Peace be with you”. This is no pithy greeting card message, or a friendly “howdy ho, neighboroony”. No. Jesus’ peace is a blessing and promise all in one.

This is the peace that comes only in the Crucified and Risen Jesus. To the world, the cross is foolishness, a scandal and a disgrace. But for us it is the power of God for our salvation. Jesus’ peace for you is found in his pierced hands and side; his kingdom comes for you by his crown of thorns. His cross is true love for you, true peace. Jesus gives you peace through weakness, by laying down his life for us.

This is the peace the world cannot give, a peace that surpasses our understanding. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27)
The Hebrew word is Shalom. Not a temporary peace, but a restoration of wholeness. With Jesus’ peace comes healing in body and mind. It begins now…already in Christ you are a new creation. And yet it is still to come. Jesus will make all things new. There will be everlasting peace.
Do we sit idle then and wait? No. Jesus sent the 72 and instructed them to “Heal the sick and say to them ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
Jesus calls us to be ambassadors of His peace: We don’t build the kingdom of God. Like the 72, we’re called to proclaim it. There’s a big difference. Sometimes we get the impression that the kingdom of God up to us to build. But that wasn’t the case for the 72, and neither is it for us. The kingdom of God is built not on our efforts but on God’s efforts, not on our works, but Christ’s works. Not with our blood, sweat, and tears but with Jesus’ blood, sweat, and tears. Jesus does the work; we proclaim: “it is finished”.
And so for all the times we’ve shaken the dust off our feet at Jesus, how beautiful are the feet of him who bears good news for us on the mountain of crucifixion. For all the times we’ve rejected his peace for our own private rebellion, Jesus cancels our record of debt by nailing it to the tree, reconciling us with the Father. For all the times we’ve desired for my kingdom to come, and my will to be done, in Jesus speaks: “Peace be with you”. Rejoice; your names are written in heaven.
The same Jesus who’s birth was announced by the angels - “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – is the same Jesus who was born to be our Prince of Peace.

The same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amidst the shouts of - “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” – is the same Jesus who reconciled the world to the Father, not counting our trespasses against us.

The same Jesus who spoke “peace be with you” to his disciples after his resurrection, is the same Jesus who delivers his peace to you today. For in Jesus the Kingdom of God has come near…and comes near to you still.
This is no abstract peace, but a real, tangible, flesh and blood peace. Jesus gives us peace in his body and blood in ordinary bread and wine. Jesus gives us peace in his Word that gives true Shalom and rest. Jesus gives us peace for all time in your Baptism.

This is what we receive and proclaim: peace through Jesus’ cross. Peace by his blood, shed for you. Peace in his wounds. Peace in his resurrection.

Peace be to this house.

Peace be with you.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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