I think it is true to say, that we all want peace. But what do we mean by this? Is it a temporal worldly peace, a rest from business and worries, or is it a peace which is an escape from the world, from fear, pain and anxiety, from anything unpleasant? Is it the peace like the stillness before the storm, before a disaster? The peace that Jesus offered to his disciples and so to us his followers is something very different. It is His peace. „My peace‟ He tells them, „I give unto you.
‟ John 14. 27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
Jesus abandoned his own will and desires and did everything that his Father wanted. This is a divine peace of abandonment, a peace of inner quiet, which no distress or earthly annoyance could destroy. He gives us this peace if we in our turn abandon ourselves to him in loving obedience. "Take my life, and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.‟
We cannot all just abandon everything and follow, Jesus knows this from his time on earth. It is an ideal, something to aim for. Jesus often spoke in extremes in order to shock us out of our comfortable existence and to push us, and guide us, to look again at our lives and our priorities.
Jesus often sought peace from the world, taking himself off alone to pray, to be still to an open space. He went into the wilderness, up mountains into gardens, to seek for space. He wanted space, not to be alone, but to be with God and commune.
Being with God brought him peace, and followers of Christ through the centuries have found the same thing. St Francis would spend a month in solitary peace, on his beloved Mount Subasio. A helper would leave food and drink at a distance for him to collect.
We all need help to find space with God. I hope that the recent reopening of the church during the day has allowed you to find space with God. I have found that creating space in the chancel and sanctuary is helping me to find space. Un-cluttering and making space is freeing for us. It helps us to be with God and to welcome the peace that Jesus gives. With more space at the front of church, many are telling me that they see the figure of Christ in a new light - a new way.
The peace of Christ is open to us all. It is a gift freely given, and it comes from an awareness of God‟s love made real through the presence of his Holy Spirit. We can cultivate this peace through making time to be with God, making space for him in our busy lives so we can be still, reflective and so being open to what he needs us to do for him. This peace requires a degree of letting go and seeing life and the world from another perspective.
However, it is worth the effort to take hold of a prize greater than anything the world can give, "a peace that passes understanding.‟
May the peace of Christ be with you all and all those you love.