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Peace in Christ

St. Matthew 10.34-39


Pentecost 2, Proper 8, series A
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Jun 26, 2011 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 In Christ we are blessed to be joined in a great union with our God.  In his high priestly prayer, our Lord Jesus Christ prays that we may all be united with him and with God the Father.  "I pray," he says,

[St. John 17.21-23]

that they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

2 This divine unity for which Christ prays, is worked among us by the Holy Spirit.  Through the Word of Christ, preached and read, the Spirit makes us one and keeps us one in Christ.  Through the sacrament of Holy Baptism God grants us the Holy Spirit and binds us into the holy union that is the Church of all the ages.  In the Sacrament of the Altar, Christ himself comes to us and unites himself to us, perfecting our holy bond with him and with one another by his constant presence.  And when our sins strain our heavenly unity with God, Christ forgives us by his word of absolution, and brings us safely once again into the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.

3 In this sacred, divine union worked by God we find true, godly peace; the peace that passeth all understanding; the peace that remains even in time of trial and trouble and turmoil. This peace comes to us from Christ.  In St. John's gospel Jesus gives his peace to the apostles, and by the same word, he gives holy peace among us.

[St. John 14.27]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

By the breath of Christ breathed upon us through his holy word, we have peace with God.  By this peace we live in Christian unity with one another.  And when the darkness of this evil age is peeled away, Christ will come again in the brightness of his glory, and we will be taken to live forever in the divine peace of God on high.

4 So, at first glance it seems strange today when we hear Christ say:

[St. Matthew 10.34-36]

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

5 To ears sanctified by the peace Christ gives, Jesus' words seem out of place at first.  But in fact, they are not out of place at all.  Christ himself explains just what they mean in the verses that follow:

[St. Matthew 10.37-39]

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

6 Apart from Christ there is no peace.  When we seek peace anywhere but in Christ, we sinfully break the bond of peace Christ gives us through his Holy Word and Blessed Sacraments.  When we value our earthly relationships above our relationship with Christ, we break the bond of peace that comes from our Lord.  When we seek to keep the peace even our families by putting our loved ones before Christ, we break the bond of peace that comes from our Lord.  When we do not seek our peace through fear, love, and trust in God above all things, we break our bond of heavenly peace and we destroy our union with God that comes by faith in Christ our Lord.

7 In our gospel for today, Christ warns us against this very sin.  By his words, he tells us what happens when we forsake our heavenly peace for the sake of serenity in our earthly relationships.

[St. Matthew 10.34-36]

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

8 Because some do forsake Christ and his gift of peace; even some within our own families, Christ reveals today that in our earthly life we may experience trial and trouble and turmoil, even with those we love the most.  So he calls us today to nurture our faith in the midst of such conflict by taking up the cross and enduring even familial strife and the sorrow and struggle that it brings.  Christ calls on us today to remain steadfast in our faith, come what may, even to the point of losing our own lives.  For in taking up our cross of suffering over those we love, we follow Christ to Calvary.  In taking up the cross, we follow Christ to the grave.  And in taking up the cross, we follow Christ out of the grave and into the resurrection of the dead.  In such unwavering faith we gain the life of the world to come, even while we struggle through our life here on earth.  In the crucible of conflict and tribulation in this life, Christ words ring out: "You have taken up your cross and followed me.  You are worthy."  In the midst of trial of turmoil and strife, Christ's promise sounds forth: "You are mine."  And in the suffering and heartache over those even our families who are not saved, Christ comforts and strengthens us by saying: "Fix your eyes on me.  Fix your heart on me.  Focus your faith on me.  Take up your cross daily, and follow me: you will find your peace, and you will find your life.

9 As those who possess eternal life and peace in Christ, we dare not sit idly by, though, while there are those in our midst who know neither life nor peace in Christ.  Christ's promise of heavenly peace is no invitation to dismiss or ignore those who do no yet possess his peace.  So we dare not say, "There is nothing I can do."  So what can we do?  We can pray.  We can pray that the Holy Spirit will send out the gospel call loud and clear to those who have not heard of Christ, and to those who have already heard, but have not yet taken the gospel message to heart.  We can pray that pastors and teachers and missionaries will faithfully preach and teach the gospel and so bring those outside the Church into blessed unity in Christ and the peace that comes only from our Lord.  And we can pray that God will use us to do those things as well. 

10 So pray that God would open your eyes to see those closest to you who need to hear of Christ.  Pray that God would open your heart to share with those among your family and friends who are even now dying in their Spirit.  Pray that God, by his grace will open our mouths to speak to them of Christ and his saving life, death, and resurrection.  And pray that God would use his words in our mouths to send forth the gospel and work faith in the hearts of those who do not yet believe.  It does not matter if you cannot see.  It doesn't matter if you cannot walk.  It doesn't even matter if you cannot talk, for we all can pray, and in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, we shall pray for those who are separated from Christ, from us, and from the church by their unbelief.  By such prayer we take up the cross of Christ.  By such prayer we lose our life in the life of Christ.  And by such prayer we find our true peace, and our true unity in Christ our Lord. 

11 In response to such prayer, Christ sends forth his word to work faith when and where it pleases him.  In response to our prayer, Christ makes us his faithful witnesses in this our part of the world.  In response to our prayer, Christ brings ever more people into union with God, and into his holy peace.  And through it all, Christ our Lord sustains us, even when our foes shall be they of our own household; for he given us union with our God, and blessed peace from above.

12 While we pray, our Lord will keep us in his peace until the time is full.  He will keep us in union with God the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit until these dark days have reached their end.  And at End of the Age, Christ will come on clouds of glory and take us all to live with him, with all the saints, and with all the angels in perfect unity with our God.  And then we will know it its fullness the peace that only he can give.  God grant it for Jesus' sake.  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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