Sunday, October 12, 2008

Peace that Passes Understanding

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -- Philippians 4:4-6

This was one of the lessons appointed for this morning, in addition to the story of the golden calf and the wedding feast. In my sermon, I pointed out that Paul's letter to the church at Philippi was written from his own prison cell to a church that was both low on financial resources and in the midst of a land that was occupied by Roman legions. It is hardly a call to "find a happy place" and disengage from the world about them. Rather, it is a promise that if we rejoice in God's grace in our lives and pray for that which we need, God's peace will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, the Philippian Prescription is Praise + Prayers = Peace.

With the stock market in free-fall, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an utter lack of confidence in either congress or the current occupant of the White House, and a political campaign climate steeped in fear, the need for "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" can hardly be denied. Yet as flawed, sinful human beings, we more often than not succumb to the temptation to shrink back, to protect ourselves, and to rely on and protect our own resources and forget about the grace and peace of God that has been with us in the past. We choose the golden calf over the Godly celebration to which we have been invited. We're often too busy saving ourselves to hear the voice of our Savior calling to us.

As conflict and fear rage around us, it would be well for all of us to recall that it is in such an environment that God continues to call us to the wedding feast, the great heavenly banquet in which God is the host. We are reminded of that invitation at the Eucharist each week. May we recall who we are and Whose we are as Children of God and rest in the peace which passes understanding.

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