Reclaiming "the peace of Christ"

Message preached January 7, 2001
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

based upon Colossians 3:12-17

Order of Worship

Those were marvelous words we just read together from Paulís letter to the Colossians. After speaking them, the question bears asking: have we lived them out in the year 2000? Have we, "as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved," clothed ourselves "with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience?" How have we done at "bearing with one another," and "forgiving each other; just as the Lord has forgiven us?" "Above all," what has been our "love" quotient? Are we "woven together in harmony?" Have we allowed "the peace of Christ" to "rule in our hearts," as His body, called into existence by God?

Have we been "thankful?" Has our worship, whether it be in this more formal setting, or in our less formal gathering, been filled "with gratitude in our hearts," singing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God?" How about when it comes to "letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly; teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom?" That which we have accomplished or, at least, attempted - "whatever," "in word or deed," "everything," has it been done "in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him?" That is, have we lived together in such a way, this past year, that we are not ashamed to connect it to Jesus - that we can gratefully bear his name, daring to call ourselves "Christian?"

If youíre like me, the answer is "yes and no." We havenít fully lived out those words. Weíre still a work in process. Weíre not there yet. Weíve had our share of falling flat on our faces, each one of us individually, and all of us together. Call these words of the apostle Paul "visionary." This is part of our goal for the here and now, as we await (and participate in, even) the fulfillment of Godís intentions for the time to come.

Iíve entitled this time Reclaiming "the peace of Christ," following a format that carried us through previous messages. As I repeated each week leading up to Christmas, by "reclaiming" I do not mean "by force," as if we were soldiers out to recapture a position now in enemy hands. Thatís especially true when it comes to "the peace of Christ." We "let," we "allow" it to rule it in our hearts. Shalom! Godís peace, Christís peace reclaims us. Of course, this is no passive activity. We are blessed as we become peace-makers, but peace-making is not a military maneuver. Rather, it is a spreading of Godís forgiveness and peace in Christ - giving, not taking.

This morning we have been reminiscing about this past year, something Iíd like us to continue. Our remembering, however, is not intended as an exercise in "taking." We can easily approach the past in a "taking" mode, as if it belongs to us and weíre going to hold on to it at all costs, reclaiming it as "our" possession. But we canít do that, can we? The past is history. All we can do is share it as a gift for the next generation. Mind you, the past is not something "dumped" upon the following generation, as if "this is how we did it, you must do the same." That would be trying to recapture the future, which is out of our hands. Am I right? We lose track of the peace of Christ when we see it that way.

Today, we pause to remember the year 2000 in the life of this fellowship of believers, in such as way as to share it with the children of the infants who were born in the last 12 months. Thirty three years down the road, Lord willing, they will open our time capsule and catch a glimpse of the church at this point in time. May they witness an admittedly imperfect people seeking to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts.

Right now, Iíd like us to continue what our young people began (to see what they said, click here). What have been some of the memorable happenings in this year? Let me leave the pulpit and let you speak. Instead of passing the microphones, Iíll repeat what you say so that all can hear. Please be brief, my short term memory isnít all that good (ask my wife). I do have a list of events from the last year, in chronological order, that we can fall back upon, if needed... Now this will be a "two-parter." When weíve traveled down this path long enough, weíll turn and look ahead, asking "what dreams do we have for the future, to share with our childrenís children?"

(to see what people said, click here)

(to see what people said, click here)

The first generation of Christians spoke of this life in Christ we share as "the way." We are on a journey, following Jesus. Now, in order to walk with him we need to put one foot forward at a time. As we do so, however, we need to leave a footprint behind. We canít leave our foot there, obviously, if we wish to travel forward. What we have been about today is intentionally leaving a footprint. May our childrenís children be blessed as they pause in their journey with Christ to see where their forebearers have been.

Please turn in your hymnal to #218, "As with gladness men of old." As we sing, you are invited to bring forward and place in the time capsule anything youíd like to share with your spiritual descendants, perhaps your "Remembering this moment in time" sheet. Shall we join our voices in song?

©2001 Peter L. Haynes

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