Sunday, July 22, 2012

He Is Our Peace!!!

July 22, 2012
Pentecost VIII
Fr. Philip Eberhart


He Is Our Peace!




It’s amazing to have preached for the past two weeks on the fact that our God is a Turn-around God and on the Juxtaposition of Good and Evil, as almost a precursor of the events of this week.  Both amazing good happened for us at REZ this week and a devastating evil for our city in the shootings in Aurora.

 First I want to report on the good and give praise to God.  On Wednesday, after our discussion last Sunday morning on our financial situation, a gift was given anonymously, that has caught us up for the year.  We still have challenges going forward, but God has sent us a message very clearly in two parts, “You have not because you ask not!”  and

“Who’s Your Daddy?!!!!”

 I want to reaffirm my own faith at this point in a God who is always mindful of our needs, even before we ask Him, and who has prepared for us who do ask, seek and knock, more than we can “ask or even imagine.”  God also challenged me this week to continue to look to HIM for the provision that we need along the way – for both finances and numbers in our midst.  It is HE who gives growth and success to those who will move with HIM by faith.  

 And so it seems appropriate to both the circumstance of our church and to the tragedy of our city this week, to say… HE IS OUR PEACE!

 Jesus said “My PEACE I give you, not as the world gives. In the world you will still have tribulation, but I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”



 PEACE IN TRIBULATION

 The peace that we gain in Christ is not based on feelings or circumstances – not based on our financial status du jour, or our proximity to or distance from tragedy.  The Peace that Jesus gives is not based on any of those things, but is based on something much larger and deeper.

 Look with me at this passage from Paul’s letter to Ephesus this morning:

 As we begin this reading this morning I need to point out that our reading begins at verse 11, after a very, very significant prologue in the first ten verses of the chapter… let me just excerpt a few verses:

 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.

6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


Some of the versions begin our reading with “THEREFORE!”

 Based on the Work of Jesus Christ – the Workmanship of God – REMEMBER!   

 Don’t forget!  The peace that we have with God and with one another is based on the gracious work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  Our reading is even more explicit here:

 “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one”

 Now to be true to the context here we have to say that the two groups Paul speaks of here are the Jews and the Gentiles.  Those Inside and those Outside. 

 But I believe that the application bears broadening this morning.  The themes of peace and reconciliation are needed today, in the midst of the pain and tragedy we are facing as a result of the actions of a madman early Friday morning in Aurora.

 Many of our lives have been touched, some more personally, by the senselessness and brutality of the events of the past 72 hours.  12 have lost their lives and we are just learning their stories last night and today.  Another 50 struggle with wounds sustained in the attack. 

 I have been hearing from friends around the world, standing with us in prayer, as well as from friends and members of REZ who have been effected or who have friends who have been effected by this tragedy.  

 How do we find PEACE in this mess?

 Our Epistle this morning points the way.  Very simply:  HE is our PEACE.

 Our peace is not going to be found in anything else or anyone else.  Just in Jesus.

It is Jesus alone who can bring His peace in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances.  Who can bring triumph out of tragedy... victory out of defeat.

 It is as we stand together in His Name, with those who are in the midst of this time of suffering that PEACE and healing and reconciliation and restoration can begin for those who have lost so much and for the city as a whole in this time.



ACCESS

 Friends, the Peace of God that we seek comes from God!  We are a nation of seekers.

A generation that is hungry for heroes. We are searching in all kinds of places for anything that will distract us, that will ease our dis – ease.  I’ve been trying to make sense out of Friday morning’s events – listening almost non-stop to radio and TV news and commentary.  Peace isn’t there!!

Peace isn’t even in candles and hugs, as we hold one another, and remember the lives of the fallen and the injured.  We believe that prayer is the beginning of the answer, as we come to God Himself for our answers – for our Peace.  

 We find our peace in the access to God’s presence that is granted us in Jesus Christ alone.

 "Access” is one my favorite words in the English bible!

 Paul tells us in Romans 5 about this access and its place in the midst of suffering:

 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 Here once again we see that we have both position and promise.  We have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [and have] gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

 And that same Peace and Grace of God, give us strength to go through the suffering that comes in this life, knowing that the suffering we come through produces the fruit of God’s Righteousness in our lives:  Perseverance, Character, Hope.  Why?

Because “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

 You have access, friend.  By God’s grace you can have peace with Him through His son, Jesus Christ.  And you can know that the tragedies of this life are not the end of the story!

 As I’ve said in previous sermons – We serve a Turn-around God! And we always find ourselves in the midst of the Juxtaposition of Darkness and Light.  God calls us to reflect His glory and to be Light in the darkness.  

 Today I ask your prayers for those who have lost their lives and for those who have lost their loved ones in our city this week.  I ask your prayers for the injured who cling to life and whose lives will be changed forever.

 Indeed may all our lives be changed forever, not by the darkness, but by the light of Christ and by His grace and by His love, because

 He is our Peace.

 Amen.





Let us remember in prayer the names of those fallen this week:



Alex Sullivan



Micayla Medek



Jessica Ghawi



John Larimer, US Navy



Matt McQuinn



Jesse Childress, US AirForce



Veronica Moser-Sullivan – Age 6



Jon Blunk



Alexander “AJ” Boik



Alex Teves



Rebecca Wingo



Gordon Cowden

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