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A Vision of Peace

We began our worship today with an Act of Remembrance, in anticipation of Remembrance Day which will take place on Friday. We remember the past, the sacrifice of those who served and gave their lives in the great wars. We remember the suffering of so many people of so many nations on all sides of these wars, and the suffering of so many people whose lives are impacted by conflict and violence today. We remember the horror of war, of which we have been reminded so vividly this year.

And by remembering, we remind ourselves that our vision for the future, God’s vision for the future, is a vision of peace. As the prophet Isaiah wrote so many years ago, we long for the days to come when

“All the nations shall stream to the Lord’s house,

that God may teach us his ways . . .

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,

and their spears into pruning-hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.”

We’re not there yet.

The readings which we heard today hold in tension the future and the present, the now and the not yet.

Today we hold out a vision of peace.

But we’re not there yet.

The vision, however, still matters. The vision gives us hope. The vision gives us a sense of direction and purpose for our lives. The power of the vision is that it can reach back through time and shape our lives today. It’s what we work towards. We are called to live in harmony today with what God wants for us tomorrow. And we become participants in getting from here to there, in making the vision a reality.

Jesus picks up on this tension between the now and the not yet in the gospel we just heard from the Sermon on the Mount, in what we call the beatitudes. It is Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God, of how God wants the world to be. The Kingdom of God coming near, it is all around us now and yet it is not fully realized. That future orientation, that ‘not yet’ comes through clearly in certain of the beatitudes:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Last time I checked, the meek still hadn’t inherited the earth yet. We’re not there yet. But that day is going to come. We have hope. We have a vision that gives us purpose and direction, a vision that sustains us.

So what do we do in the meantime? In the midst of our lives, in the midst of suffering, war and conflict?

One response to the “what do we do now?” question is given by the psalmist.

“I lift my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth”

This is the response of faith, the response of the one who puts their trust in God. God is with us. We are not alone. The one who keeps watch over us neither slumbers nor sleeps.

“The Lord, the Lord watches over you. . . The Lord shall keep you safe.”

Isaiah’s great vision of peace? We’re not there yet. In the meantime, trust in God.

Trusting in God is our foundation. But that’s not all that’s required of us. Because we are called to be participants in the realization of God’s great vision of peace. How are we to do this? What’s required of us? Here we turn to the prophet Micah.

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God?”

This is what we can do now. Yes, there is conflict. But even now we can do justice. Yes there is suffering in the world. But even now we can love kindness. We can walk humbly with our God. And in this way we align ourselves with God’s vision of peace, and participate in bringing it about. Each in our own way, each in some small measure, each one of us can heal wounds caused by conflict and suffering. We walk humbly, because we know that is God who will do the heavy lifting, and because we know that sometimes we get it wrong. But we walk with our God, we learn God’s ways and we walk in God’s paths. This we can do now, knowing that if we were all to do justice, if we were all to love kindness, if we were all to walk humbly with God, we could live in a world where those who mourn would be comforted and the meek would inherit the earth, where the poor in spirit would be blessed.

Which brings us back to the now and the not yet of Jesus’ great vision for humanity. It too is a vision that has yet to be fully realized. But it is also a call to action for those of us who are part of Jesus’ movement. There are things we can do now. We can hunger and thirst for righteousness, working to ensure that people are treated justly and with dignity. We can be merciful, compassionate and forgiving, working for reconciliation in our relationships and in our society.

And we can be peacemakers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

What does it mean to be a peacemaker?

If we think of being a peacemaker in terms of going out and stopping wars, that does seem like a daunting task.

But the Hebrew word shalom that Jesus is using is about much more than an absence of conflict. We translate shalom as peace, but its meaning conveys more than does our English word “peace”.

Shalom means to make whole. To be in harmony. To be well, safe and healthy. To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.

These are things that all of us can work towards. We can be makers of shalom. We can make shalom every day, in every aspect, in every relationship of our lives. Where there is brokenness, we work to make things whole. Where there is alienation, we work towards reconciliation. Where there is hurt and sorrow, we can bring healing. Where there is discord, we seek to create harmony. Where there is conflict we can bring peace. We can do this each and every day, in all aspects, in every relationship of our lives. And when we do, there will be more harmony, more well-being, more wholeness, more peace. For ourselves and for those around us.

Blessed are the peacemakers. For they will be called children of God.

“In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and … all nations shall stream to it,

many peoples shall come. . . .

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning-hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.”

Blessed are the peacemakers.


Remembrance Sunday, Nov 6 2022, Trinity

Readings: Isaiah 2.2-4; Micah 6.6-8; Psalm 121; Matthew 5.1-9



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