Friday, October 23, 2015

The Peace of the Lord

Easter 3 Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 19 April 2015
Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4;1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day
Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.

Jesus teaches the disciples/us how to fish & how to fish for people.
1st Jesus gives us the most important fishing tool: himself.
2nd he gives us the scriptures that explain that self.
3rd he gives us peace.
When Jesus says “Peace be with you” to his terrified disciples in our Gospel, he is saying so much more than “May you be free from fear.” Jesus says “Shalom” which has many aspects.
Shalom is what we had in the beginning of the human story before we sinned.1 Shalom is what we lost then & have regained because Jesus has died for our sins. “The greatest sign of God's love for us is the gift of his Son...that (makes us) children of God. This relationship is a present reality &...part of the life to come.”2 This relationship gives us shalom.
Shalom encompasses “harmony, concord, flourishing” rather than the “chaos, disorder, fragmentation,” we know.3
We hear lack of shalom in each of our readings today. Chaos, disorder, fragmentation are what the disciples have been experiencing since Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion & death.
They have been through so much. Jesus just died on Friday. Now it's Sunday & people are saying Jesus is alive & they have talked with him. The disciples who haven't encountered Jesus are hungry to understand.
The disciples, who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus & recognized Jesus when he broke bread at supper, have just told their fellow disciples their experience when suddenly Jesus appears. He's no ghost. He's the real, flesh & blood Jesus & he's hungry. So they give him a piece of broiled fish. [Illustrations on walls of early catacombs show the early church likely had bread-and-fish Eucharists.4]
By eating & showing his body Jesus shows: he's really the Jesus his disciples know; the Jesus who walked with them & the resurrected Jesus are the same; they know that his Resurrection is more than an idea about a soul's immortality.5 Jesus is the same man who was dead 3 days ago.
Like the astonishment that accompanies seeing the resurrected Jesus, there is astonishment over the healing of the man in our lesson from Acts. He was born lame more than 40 years6 before his healing. The astonished reaction to his healing, as one commentary notes, is “appropriate to this dramatic display of divine power”7. People can't grasp that he's the same man. Like the disciples, the people hunger to understand.
We hunger to understand Jesus' death & Resurrection that we proclaim. We hunger to understand the miracle of healing & other miracles. Acts & our Gospel point to the need for scriptural nourishment. In both cases, the confused & bewildered people can be fed by Holy Scripture. Jesus opens the disciples' minds to understand what scripture says about him. In Acts, to feed the people's hunger for understanding, Peter echoes what Jesus says.
Notice: Jesus says repentance & forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Peter proclaims this Good News in the Temple in Jerusalem where he has been the conduit for Jesus' power that heals the lame man. Jesus says start in Jerusalem & move into all the world.
Two Sundays from now we will hear the Good News reach out. Eventually it will reach all nations. To do so, God gives us work to do [as we know], & God gives this Body of Christ work to do. Our work spreads shalom.
Jesus says: clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, heal the sick, welcome the stranger, feed the hungry.8 In other words, nourish, welcome, heal, visit, clothe with shalom.
What does shalom look like in the 21st century? It looks like:
  • Doctors without Borders;
  • asylum-seeking Christians interlocking arms as they face murderers who have thrown 12 Christians overboard.
  • Shalom looks like us praying for Muslim victims in Afghanistan's suicide attack as fervently as we pray for Christian victims,
  • us praying for the perpetrators,
  • us & our state & local officials working to recognize & combat human trafficking, a sin that traffickers see the opportunity to profit from in Georgia's tourism & agricultural industries, for which our transportation infrastructure & rural areas make moving victims easy.9
In this Body of Christ what does shalom look like? It looks like
  • a welcoming smile,
  • sitting beside a guest to help with our unfamiliar worship,
  • pleasantly surprised neighbors receiving bags of beans & rice & offers for us to pray for their concerns.
  • We spread shalom in baby caps, Bible study, yard & parish supper cleanups.
Shalom is something we must do within our own lives. We have to offer ourselves the peace the world cannot give. We have to give ourselves a break. An exhausted executive director of a non-profit had a reality check about this when he went into the break room & asked his employees: “Has anyone seen David?”10
The group “chuckled, almost embarrassed for him as he looked on helpless...(until) he realized what he'd (said).” He IS David. “In his exhaustion, he'd lost sight of himself & his calling.”11 He'd lost touch with shalom. Suddenly, he's hungry to understand.
That evening, at a regular poetry reading with his Benedictine monk friend, he asks about exhaustion. The monk says: “...(T)he antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest...The antidote to exhaustion is whole-heartedness.”12
Whole-heartedness comes when we center our life, when we are passionately engaged, open, creative, connected, & propelled by a sense of mission.13 We can lose whole-heartedness when we forget to offer ourselves shalom, a break to deepen our connection to our core purpose & being.
Ever have one of those nights when you can't sleep? You are “lying awake, babysitting the world...worried,... grandkids,... bills,, not to mention Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and climate change!”14 Those are the nights to notice our Psalm's last verse (BCP p. 588): “I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
In other words: “Shalom be with you. Relax. Let God run the world for a while. Have a good sleep!”15
May the Peace of the Lord be always with you.

Barclay, William. The Acts of the Apostles. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press. 1962.
Barclay, William. The Gospel of Luke. Revised Ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1975.
DeGroat, Chuck. toughest people to love: how to understand, lead, and love the difficult people in your life – including yourself. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2014.
Dios Habla Hoy: La Biblia. 2da Ed. Nueva York: Sociedad Bíblica Americana. 1983. Human Trafficking Report.pdf. Accessed: 18 April 2015.;_ylu=X3oDMTEzZzRibTkwBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1lIUzAwMl8x/RV=2/RE=1429437248/RO=10/
Gupta, Nijay. “Commentary on 1 John 3:1-7”. Accessed: 18 April 2015.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Haynes, Danielle. “Christians allegedly thrown overboard by Muslims on migrant boat to Italy”. Posted: 16 April 16, 2015. Updated: 18 April 2015.Accessed: 18 April 2015.
Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Kubicek, The Rev. Kirk Alan. “Jesus is Hungry”. Sermons That Work. Accessed: 15 April 2015.
Lectionary Page. Accessed: 7 April 2015.
Limburg, James. “Commentary on Psalm 4”. Accessed: 16 April 2015.
Miakhil, Samoon. “IS claims deadly Afghan suicide attack: President Ghani.” Associated Foreign Press. Posted: 18 April 2015. Accessed: 18 April 2015.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
Women's Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated. Eds: Elizabeth Rankin Geitz. Marjorie A. Burke. Ann Smith. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing. 2000.

1 DeGroat, Chuck. toughest people to love. P. 128.
2 The New American Bible for Catholics. P. 1361.
3 Ibid. DeGroat.
4 Kubicek, The Rev. Kirk Alan. “Jesus is Hungry”. Sermons That Work. Accessed: 15 April 2015.
5 Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. P. 1043.
6 Note: See Acts 4:22.
7 Ibid. Harper's. P. 1083.
8 Ibid. Kubicek.
9 Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “ Human Trafficking in Georgia: A Survey of Law Enforcement Assessing Georgia Law Enforcement’s Awareness of and Involvement in Human Trafficking Activity.” Human Trafficking Report.pdf. Accessed: 18 April 2015.
10 Ibid. DeGroat. toughest people to love. P. 129-130.
11 Ibid. DeGroat. P. 130.
12 Ibid. DeGroat. P. 130.
13 Ibid. DeGroat. P. 132.
14 Ibid. Limburg, James. “Commentary on Psalm 4”. Accessed: 16 April 2015.
15 Ibid. Limburg, James. “Commentary on Psalm 4”. Accessed: 16 April 2015.

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