Bread – Peace

August 5, 2016


Psalm 29

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.  May the Lord give strength to His people!  May the Lord bless His people with peace!

This week, it may seem like that Noah’s flood, the end of the world, has overwhelmed you and sunk you and drowned you in a sea from which there is no escape.  God reigns over the flood and He is mighty to save His people from the consequences of their sin.

This week, it may seem like that weakness of heart or spirit or mind or body has overwhelmed you, driving you into the pit of depression, worry, and misery.  God provides strength to persevere in the hard times and strength to stand fast in the good times; when we are weak, He is strong for us.  He is the source of our strength and our salvation.

This week, it may seem like we have no peace.  There is the war of making a daily living in the midst of circumstances and people who seem to want to make sure that you can’t.  There is the war of words and ideas which flood every means of communication.  There is the war of the mind where we, every day, have to decide who we serve.  There is the war of the heart where we, every day, have to decide to love or to hate.  There is fighting with word and sword – death and defeat surround us.  God is a place of refuge, of sanctuary, during these times.  He is the source of peace, if we but want to drink of the water which flows from Him.

What is peace?  Is it the absence of war?  Most people think so and think that war is evidence of the lack of peace.  But how is it that we can have peace from war (and there have been times, although rare, where that is true), and yet have no peace in our lives.  To live is to contest the elements, the opposition, the thoughts of other people who decide just not to be cooperative that day.  Life is a contest and, as a result, there is no peace.

In fact, the Lord commands us to speak the truth in love to people who do not want to hear it and who oppose the truth.  Jesus warns us of persecutions.  He died on the cross.  Martyrs of the church through the ages have died by fire, by evisceration, by acid, by beheading, by torture, by sword and by the thousand cuts of scorn heaped upon them by the scoffers of the world.

Did these martyrs have peace?  Not by a worldly definition, not by a long shot.  But did they have peace?  We know they did.  Then what is peace?

Imagine for a moment being in the eye of the storm.  All around you is swirling fury and destruction, and yet you stand observing, watching, considering, thinking, loving – and unaffected.  In the storm there is no room for conversation, no place for reflection or thought, no opportunity for rest.  In the center of the storm, in its eye, one can speak calmly and openly, one can listen, and one can lay down and rest.

Maybe the Psalm should say “May the Lord bless His people by placing them in the eye of the storm.”  And, if you think about it, indeed he does.  When our soul is in Christ, it is He who leads us by still waters in the eye of the storm, it is He who speaks to us comforting words while we are surrounded by the swirling noise of the world, it is He who prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies.

“May the Lord bless His people with peace.”  He has and His name is Christ Jesus, Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, King, Lord of Lords, Emmanuel – yes, Emmanuel, God is with us.  And when He is with us we stand in the middle of the storm in peace, not by our power but by His.

Want peace?  It is free at the foot of the cross.  It is free for the asking.  But you have to ask.

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bread – Journeys

March 21, 2014


Readings for Friday, March 21, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 43:1-15; 1 Cor. 7:1-9; Mark 4:35-41; Psalms 69,73,95

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In today’s reading from Genesis, Israel’s children have returned from Egypt with the bread given to them by Joseph (unknown to them as the brother they threw away), but Israel and his sons and family have consumed what was returned. So, another trip to Egypt is in store. Israel tells them to go back to Israel, but the sons refuse unless they can take Benjamin, the youngest, with them, because Joseph told them to and they cannot go back and ask for bread without the youngest in tow. Judah, the oldest son, finally swears that he will take care of Benjamin or bear the shame of his failure forever. Israel relents because the famine was great and they needed food.

The brothers, including Benjamin, then set out on their journey to Joseph and Egypt with these words of Israel ringing in their ears – “…if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” Gen. 43:14b

I have probably read this history at least ten times in my life, and my memory of it was that Israel lamented his youngest going on the trip and cried. Instead, however, a closer reading (and a more correct reading) is that Israel was resigned to the fact that the journey might end with all of his children dead. “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” If I lose everything, so be it.

Have you ever launched into a journey with the understanding that everything could be lost on the way? Knowing this, some people are frightened into never beginning the journey. Knowing this, some people spent enormous amounts of energy, money, and time preparing for all contingencies on the journey, so they take the journey all burdened down with stuff. Knowing this, some people are just fatalistic and go on the journey, with an “Oh well” mentality. But there is a fourth type of person, a person who takes the journey with their face steeled against the possibility that things will turn out poorly, but also believing in faith that it will not. Sometimes that faith is in themselves, which we know to be a weak foundation. If they are Christian, that faith is in Christ, in God, which we know to be a strong foundation.

Jesus in our reading today from Mark speaks of a journey, a journey across the sea in a small boat, tossed and turned by the waves, the wind, and the rain. Jesus appears and calms the storm, and then asks the disciples why they were afraid, why they had so little faith.

What is interesting about the disciples on the sea in the boat in the storm quieted by Jesus is that the journey for the disciples did not end. They were still in the boat in the middle of the sea. They still had to cross to the other side. Things could still turn out badly; they had a taste of that earlier. The difference was, however, that Jesus was in the boat and, knowing that, the disciples might, just might, have gained that measure of faith to see them to the end of their journey.

We are all on a journey. We may be on a journey to our next meeting, to lunch, to our next promotion, to our next job termination, to health or illness, to wealth or poverty, to gain or loss, to freedom or imprisonment, to life or death. We are on a journey through life.

The question is really, not whether we will be on the journey, but what our attitude will be about it. Will we be so afraid that we will not venture out to even take the first step? Will we be so worried that we will spend so much time in preparation that we never have any time to enjoy it? Will we be so trusting in ourselves that we will walk far out onto bridge across the water before we realize that the bridge we have built is weak and failing? Or will be so trusting in Christ that, when the waves come and the lightning strikes, we turn to Him with a smile on our face and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to trust You more, now please take care of it!’

We take many journeys, but can we truly say “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved?” Can we truly say, “Come what may on my journey, I still have won?” In Christ, you can.

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© 2014 GBF

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