Saturday, December 9, 2017

Let Peace Begin With Me - Mark 1, John 14

Let Peace Begin With Me
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
10/13 December 2017

A Sermon based upon Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 126; John 14:27, Mark 1:1-8

Will you pray with me?  Let God guide our senses, our hearts and our ears to receive the lessons given to us.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.

And All God’s Children Say:

We have talked about turning anxiety into hope.
Today we turn to peace!

I remember in the early 1990s, threat of national debt was fresh,
the Berlin Wall was crumbling against freedom,
the Iron Curtain was coming down
and the threat of mutual annihilation seemed almost a distant memory.

Freedom was flowing through Eastern Europe
as dictatorship after dictatorship peacefully stepped into history.
There was much to rejoice at new “peace,”
and we did it without “war.” 

Instead of a great divide and shadows or folklores,
People were singing songs with one time enemies “Peace in our time, Peace in our time!”

All of that seems like a distant quiet memory with the many new challenges that face us today.  Our world continues to be full of issues that want to disrupt “peace” in many different ways.

The “Soviet menace” has been replaced.
We have “terrorists”, criminals, ugly politics,
and we have devilish prejudices running rampant.

Yet, all of these bits of disturbance take away our Peace
--when we let them.
Violence and destruction have been part of our history,
and life seems out of control. 
The picture of Star Trek-type idealism
where people have become “somewhat more enlightened senses” (as Picard would say)
feels like an insane notion and not possible.

How do we reclaim our peace?
The path is simple but not easy.

Our Scripture from Mark kind of highlights this.
We read how John the Baptist humbles himself and gives into the will of God. 
John finds peace in the hope and believing that greatness is coming
and so he humbles himself before God.

We read from Isaiah
 the call to “rise up”,
to get up to a mountain,
and “lift up your voice.”
Isaiah invokes the image of the shepherd
 –sounds like Gospels and an image of Jesus before us. 
From darkness, we saw a light.
From the mountain and the valley, t
he “voice” calls us to be guided and to respond.
You practically hear the Scripture calling for an “Amen.”

Can I get an Amen?

Whether we reclaim peace by humbling ourselves or shouting our joy,
we do not have to let darkness rule us.
Instead of being complacent and content with darkness.
Throw off the shackles and “rise up.”

Find the hope, the peace, the love and the joy of the season.

When we shout out “Amen” and when we humble ourselves,
we may suddenly see the light, the shepherd, and feel the peace. 

We are here today because of the Guidance of God
and the assurance that real hope and real peace is on its way.
We only need to prepare our hearts and minds to receive this.

How do we reclaim our Peace?  I am glad you asked.

When the world is full of chaos,
We let peace begin with me.  
You have a choice of how that works humbled or cry out .

Instead of reacting with violence,
maybe react with humility,
Instead of reacting with scorn,
maybe we react with compassion and a hug.
Instead of reacting with anger,
we understand that life can be humbling.
Instead of expecting the world to serve us,
Perhaps we serve the world,
 or least our little part of it.

This is something I learned from martial arts
and from some Buddhist colleagues.

No matter how hard our workout, sweat rolling down across the eyes
 or what was on my mind,
We come to silence in meditation.

Walk with me on this meditation.

That peace begins with me
With every breath I take and to live each breath.
-- In and out
To take each moment and live each moment.
Let the darkness fall around you
and feel the harmony
No war,
No pain,
no worries, and no hunger.
Just you, your breath, and God.

That is the essence of meditation, a way to pray.

Yes, some breaths and some moments may be hard,
but those moments are miracles given to us to explore now

Another sample of this might look like,
When you come to dinner,
No matter where you are on life’s journey,
no matter what time it is,
or what obligations you have…
let go of outside and just be here.
No matter what you hear, or what you are thinking,
Have dinner with God at your table,
sitting next to you.
Feel the warmness,
relish the friendship,
Enjoy the pleasant smells and delicious tastes together. 

Like hope,
Let Peace begin with you.
Start here.
Experience peace here and now.

We all have struggles and hardships
(I know my past couple months have been loaded with them.)

When I walk into the sanctuary door,
I bow,
take a breath,
and thank God for this moment
(no matter how tough life has been).
Breathe and pray.
Relax, lift your chest and let your lungs lift you.
Be there with God’s blessing.

When you breathe in,
hold it for moment and feel every bit of life fill every corner of you
When you breathe out,
let go of the violence and anxiety that has captured you.

If you feel the intensity of real peace rising,
you may feel compelled to “lift up your voice” and to “rise up.”

Go ahead!
Let your voice be heard – Can I get an “Amen!”

Let go of anger, illusion, anxiety and just be,
just be the hope of the season,
just be the peace of the season.
You may then find the love and joy of the season.

The verse from John is a familiar one that some invoke to sharing peace in worship. 

27 Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
 ... let not your hearts be troubled,
and do not be afraid.

Continue to turn anxiety into hope.
In that regard, Build on the hope we have and let us share some peace…

Thanks Be to God.

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