The following guest sermon was submitted by ULC Minister Reeia Lalchan. All members of the ULC community are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reflections of my heart... maintaining personal peace in a chaotic world. Isaiah 11:6-11 gives perhaps the best imagery of what peace in the world would look like: “Animals are paired off in a strange and wonderful way: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the calf with the lion, the cow with the bear, the lion and the ox. They shall be led by a child.” (Glenn E. Schaefer) Isaiah 2:4 also describes the nations of the world coming under the rule of the ‘Prince of Peace', saying, “they will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” What strikes me most from these passages is the harmony, the peace, between the animal kingdom and humankind. In other words, peaceful coexistence. A beautiful picture, is it not? But the reality is that this beautiful environment of peace can only become a reality when we, humankind, have established a right relationship with God, acquiring that state of inner peace within ourselves. You see, peace is not simply the absence of war, chaos and strife. The Biblical concept of peace takes its definition from the Hebrew word ‘slm’ which translates “to be complete”. Peace, therefore, is a state of being.
Chasing an Illusion
How many of us spend so much time, energy and money chasing the illusion of peace which the world offers? The peace which this world offers lasts only for a while. We may be lulled into thinking that we have attained peace when our circumstances are favourable. But what happens when we fall on hard times, when we face difficult relationships, when our health poses challenges, when our situation becomes less favourable? We become angry, discontented, at ‘war’ with ourselves and others, sometimes even God! Worldly peace disappears when circumstances are beyond our control. I know of many successful, powerful people who would gladly trade all their material possessions for one moment of true peace. If we were asked to suggest what was wrong with today’s world, we may suggest some of these: the pandemic, the unstable stock market, corrupt governments, global warming, insufficient health care, lack of food, broken families, and the list can go on and on. We try to somehow ‘fix’ these problems by doing good, feeding the hungry, passing laws to conserve wildlife, whatever it takes to create a bandaid of peace. Just like in the Old Testament when the false prophets treated ‘sin’ lightly and proclaimed the problem ‘solved’. “They have healed the wound of my people lightly saying,’Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14. Does it last? Of course not. Our actions address the symptoms of a sinful world, but we fail to see the root of the problem - our own sinful nature. Only Christ can cure this disease and grant us lasting peace. Another factor which can rob us of our peace is that of the pain of broken promises. No matter what our position, age or gender, we have all, at some point, experienced the disappointment caused by those around us. And, sometimes in spite of our best intentions we, too, can disappoint by saying one thing and doing something else.
One Road to Peace
There is only one person in whom we can trust to never disappoint us...our Heavenly Father. God can always be trusted to keep His Word. He never contradicts Himself or acts in a way that is out of character. He will never disappoint. As we prepare ourselves during this Advent season, let us be mindful that God sent His only Son to foster a relationship between Himself and us, sinful humankind. Through Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection He bridged the gap that sin had inserted between us and God. He took the punishment for our sin and, in exchange He gives us peace with God. “For He Himself is our peace, Who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:14 So while we have the opportunity to experience eternal peace through reconciliation with God, we also receive the gift of His Holy Spirit. And when we accept this gift and allow it to be present in our daily lives, even when chaos threatens to upset our calm, for then we will all have that true peace which surpasses all understanding.