Bishop Mark Tanner writes ~ February 2017
It always strikes me that Jesus commands his disciples to pray ‘Peace to this house’ every time they enter someone's home (Luke 10.5).
I love this! I don't always remember to pray it when I visit someone, but I try to. Greeting people is really important as we offer friendship and warmth, but perhaps there are things that are even more of a priority, and we glimpse them in this brief instruction from Jesus.
Jesus’ great gift to the world is peace. It is announced by the Angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’ (Luke 2.14). It is part of His Name: ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Is 9.6). It is what He offered to the disciples as He drew towards His crucifixion: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John 14.27)
Jesus’ peace is not simply the end of conflict. It is forgiveness, it is hope, it is settled-ness with God, freedom, and belonging. It is the home-coming, and the home-staying, of the rebellious younger son, the prodigal. It is conceived in Mary's womb, born in Bethlehem, witnessed in Jesus, and won at Golgotha. It is definitively declared at the resurrection, eternally broadcast at the ascension, and patiently proffered as the gospel is proclaimed today... for the Prince of Peace now sits at the right hand of the Father.
Here is hope!
Here is the possibility that 2017 could be different.
And here is the challenge for us as we seek to be peacemakers in our communities, our homes, and our churches. Peacemakers are blessed (Matthew 5.9) but they are often neither noticed nor appreciated. Peacemaking is hard, but it is the work of Christ and He calls us to join with Him. True peacemaking involves conversion of the heart, and often forgiveness both of other and of self. Peace with others can only truly be found after someone has made peace with themselves. And I can only make peace with myself once I have accepted the peace which Christ makes for me... once I have looked my brokenness and sin in the eye and offered it up to the One who willingly hangs on His cross and opens an impossible way of peace with God and restoration of life for all who will accept it from Him.
As we approach the holy season of Lent in a world which is torn apart by a lack of peace I encourage you to inhabit this invitation of peace, whether you are accepting it for the first time or the thousandth. Jesus offers it to you and through you. Engage in prayer, in confession, in self-examination, and with determination not to keep this to yourself. For the context of Jesus’ instruction to pray peace is as He sends his followers out to tell others about Him. This is our task too if we are to fulfil our commission to be the peacemakers our world so desperately needs.
The peace of the Lord be with you!
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