Remembrance Sunday falls on 13th of November this year and I want us to think about
Now I’m too young to remember either of the two World Wars, but I do take Remembrance
Sunday very seriously. By the way I do find it disturbing that in my relatively short
life, that I have lived through 3 conflicts; the Falklands Conflict and 2 Gulf Wars.
I may be too young to remember but I have always had a great deal of respect for
those who fought for their nation in either the First or Second World Wars. I am
deeply grateful for the courage and sacrifice made by so many for their country,
for their generation, my generation and for my children’s generation. I am sure that
many of you will feel the same way and may even have fought yourself of known someone
who died. So Remembrance Sunday is a day to remember service personnel and civilians
who fought and gave their lives, it is a day that we must continue to maintain as
a feature of our civil and religious lives.
But, what is peace? Generally, we think
of peace as being the absence of noise, warfare, terrorism; all those sounds and
events that disturb our lives. The absence of these things allows us to carry on
with our lives as normal. Peace is not easily achieved, especially when we think
of all the current conflict in our world or all the noise we are constantly surrounded
by. I know that the only opportunity that I have for any peace and quiet in my life
are when the rest of the family are out of the house and I am at home on my own.
But for many, peace is unobtainable, either peace in terms of the absence of war
and terror, or peace in terms of silence, or peace in terms of the absence of inner
turmoil. How many of us find that when we do have quietness in our homes that it
is then that the inner turmoil of our lives becomes frightening and disturbing? It
is in the silence of the day or night that our inner turmoil comes to the surface.
How many of us leave the Radio or TV on even when we are not paying them any attention?
Often the lonely or bereaved will feel the need to do this just to provide a distraction
or some company.
Yet into this world of violence and inner turmoil, Jesus came to
bring us peace. A radical understanding of peace, which nevertheless is also deeply
disturbing. The peace which Jesus offers us builds upon the Biblical concept of “Shalom”.
This is not so much about the absence of certain factors, not about being empty or
devoid of trouble, but it is rather about the presence of goodwill, the presence
of love, of the encouragement of relationships which build reconciliation and unity,
the presence of a spirituality which leads to harmony. Biblical peace is about the
presence of well-being and of wholeness.
So in Christian terms we can see that peace
is not simply absence, but presence, not simply passive, but active. In the Sermon
on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed the peacemakers as blessed, in so far as they were
not just to be about preventing warfare or stopping fighting, but should have an
active role in promoting reconciliation and the kind of communities of relationship
which build for peace, engender harmony and establish trust.
The peace which Christ
offers us also concerns inner transformation and renewal. This cannot be a simple
wallpapering over of the painful cracks in our lives. That which is wrong, bad or
sinful, must be healed and restored. This process may involve exposing the crack
in our lives, the painful places being laid bare, that which is sick and diseased
being removed and then healed and renewed. It can be a painful process to know the
healing and wholeness which Christ can bring to our lives.
I must offer you a health
warning at this point to all those who dislike going to the dentists. Just think
of something pleasant and happy for the next few moments! A dentist will not just
fill a decayed tooth, first they will drill out the bad and root out the diseased
part. Something which I am sure we all look forward to every time we go to the dentists!
When the dead is removed, a process which can be uncomfortable and even painful,
then the whole can be filled and sealed, replacing the diseased or decayed part of
the tooth with something new.
Finally, then, Christ offers us a peace which can be
painful to achieve and Jesus also calls us as his disciples to be peacemakers ourselves.
I find it ironic, however, that the United States has called a missile “The Peacemaker”.
I’m not saying that we must all join a Greenham Common-esque peace movement, but
that we must be about building up relationships and a spirituality which engenders
peace, not just the absence of war, violence, noise or inner turmoil, but which brings
about the presence of love, harmony, well-being, healing and wholeness. This can
be achieved in and through Jesus Christ.
So may each of us know and experience the
Peace of Christ in out hearts and may we also actively promote the Peace of Christ
in the hearts and lives of people in our communities.
In the Name of Christ our Saviour,