May 20, 2019
The peace of the Lord, the peace of the Lord
the peace of the risen Lord Jesus:
the peace of the Lord is for you and for me,
and also for all of God's children.
The peace of the Lord is for you and for me,
and also for all of God's children.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #646]
The readings for May 26, 2019, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, are as follows:
At last count, I had 1798 "friends" on Facebook. I probably know fewer than a fourth of them. The majority of these are people I've never laid eyes on.
The number exploded once I was elected bishop. I have "friends" all over the world. I enjoy hearing from them and following their activities. Even now, I get an occasional friend request from an absolute stranger because Facebook suggests that they "friend" me.
Technology and social media has expanded the number of people with whom we interact and the frequency of our contact. Many of us can remember when there were only 3 ways that you could stay in touch with people - letters, telephone calls and telegrams. Telegrams were only sent for very important messages and long distance telephone calls were reserved for special occasions. The only way most people travelled to visit distant relatives and friends was by car. Plane travel was not affordable for most people.
How that has changed!
Some time ago, I heard a program on radio that despite the ease of communication we are more alone than ever. We are also more divided than ever, fragmented mostly along political ideologies. As a result, some of my friends dropped Facebook and other social media for Lent. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't. Besides email, I circulate this weekly musing by way of social media.
But in this increasingly hostile world, those who dropped Facebook found a certain measure of what they were seeking - peace. And it is peace that is the central point of the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
Jesus says to his disciples: "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 let them be afraid." [John 14:27]
Just before the sharing of the peace, the Roman Missal includes a "Prayer for Peace," in which the priest says the words: "Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles, 'Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,' look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will."
Being somewhat influenced by that prayer, when I was in my last parish I began using the words of Jesus in John 14:27 as my preamble to the sharing of the peace.
Several people told me how comforting they found those words, so I continued to use them. No one has yet complained that they were too "Catholic."
And all of the words of Jesus in this reading and in this context are meant to be comforting, supportive, affirming. After all, these words are spoken on the night before his crucifixion, so in this context, we can rightly imagine that peace is not something the disciples are feeling.
But Jesus promised them he would send an advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will teach them everything, and remind them of all that he had said to them. The Holy Spirit, then, becomes Jesus' social media platform for the disciples - and us.
The Holy Spirit comes to us in baptism and in the body and blood of Jesus with bread and wine. That is Jesus' way of keeping in touch with us, reminding us on a weekly basis that we are special in God's sight.
As Martin Luther reminds us in his explanation of the third article of the Creed:
"...The Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins-mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life."
Jesus says, "
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you."
This is a peace the world can't ever give us. This is a gift of profound importance
This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend and the synod office will be closed on Monday, May 27, in observance of the holiday. Therefore, Monday Musings will publish a Tuesday Edition on May 28.
This Easter season and always, may God be merciful to us and bless us; may the light of God's face shine upon us and bring us peace.
+Bishop Abraham Allende