Date: May 1, 2016 "Sharing the Peace", Based on John 14:23-29, Revelation 21:10- 22:5

Every Sunday we have this moment in worship when we do ‘Sharing the Peace’.
And when that happens, we all move around and say ‘Good Morning; how ya doing’
And that is fine and all well and good and everybody likes it.
But what we do doesn’t reflect what Jesus meant when he said “Peace be with you”.

Jesus says that to his disciples (several times), at a time of great anxiety for them.
He is trying to prepare them for when he will be leaving them.
Later, he says it when they are jolted by his resurrection appearance.
So both times he says this, they are in a state of frustration and/or fear.

Jesus explains what he means when he tells them to “not let (their) hearts be troubled”. But I think that finding this “peace” Jesus wants for them is easier said than done.
Achieving this peace at crucial times can often be an elusive exercise.
The same kind of jolts of the unexpected and fears about the future often upset us too.
I was wondering, what can we do or help us find and have this “peace”.

The first thing I thought is we go to church on Sunday, which helps very much.
But while some of that stays with, soon we’re back in the world of fears and frustrations.
Then I thought,..read a devotional booklet each day (I try to do that)
But like church, that lasts a while but if you don’t have the book with you, then what?
Many Christians will say you can always pick up a bible and read a few verses,.
But you need a bible handy for that, plus you also never know where or what to read.
There’s the story of a person in despair who took a bible and just read at a random spot.
The verse they found said “and Judas went and hung himself” - wrong bible verse.
Symbols can help; I wear a crucifix inside my shirt to remind me of Jesus / God’s love.
But that’s been there so long, I mostly don’t even realize I have it on.

After saying, ‘peace be with you’, Jesus says “I do not give to you as the world gives”.
That made me wonder if the best source of peace,…. is not found outside of us.

Maybe the best way to find peace at any given moment is found and made within us.

I got that idea from our other reading today in the book of Revelation.
That passage talks about a vision of a world in which God’s perfection is realized.
It sounds like an altogether entirely different place than where we live.
It starts off saying that “there is no temple”, or in our terms, no church building.
It speaks of ‘light’ and ‘glory’ and of a place all are welcomed and accepted.
No terrible things permitted and no falsehoods allowed.
There is an abundance of good nourishment and healing for everyone.
And, last but not least,….we will be close to and see the face of God!

The writer, John, saw these things when he was taken outside himself by the Holy Spirit
He said he was lifted up to a high place and saw a world of all God’s perfection.
So I thought, if only we could go to a perfect place for a bit when we need to find peace.
If the world is source of our problems and anxieties, maybe we need a break from it.
To let God’s Spirit take us to a place away from, even above, this world, sounds nice.
The only other question then is,…..how do we get there?

There is one thing that you and I can do that can help us to escape to a perfect place.
It’s an easy trick that’s not really a trick but something like prayer, you can do any time.
Just find a place of silence,… pause and be still,…and close your eyes.
Close your eyes and ask God’s Spirit to take you away from, and even above, yourself.
Let the Spirit show you that perfect place that God wants you to be in.

Then, as if you were God,…look down to see yourself in a good place.
Look down to a place where the issue that nags you is resolved.
See a place where your kids are fine with no need to worry about them.
A place where health problems don’t exist and you feel young and vibrant again.
A place where death is not on the horizon but an irrelevant memory.
A place where you are feeling totally loved and forgiven by God
Then, say to yourself a short prayer;… ‘Yes, Lord, this is the place and peace I want’.

I’m not suggesting that we just create a fantasy world that makes us feel good.
But to enter into our own trance of a world like that which God takes care of everything.
A new Jerusalem for us that can be created within us through the help of God’s Spirit.
Because God wants us all to be in a place; with no worry, stress, hatred, sickness.
God wants us in a place where light of goodness overcomes the darkness of woes.

Someday we’ll all pause and enter into the silence of closing our eyes for the last time.
Then, God WILL take us to a place like in Revelation tells of to see this perfect peace.
The Scriptures tell of a place, not just to see then, but for us to also glimpse now!
So by faith and God’s Spirit we can take short trips there and move closer to his peace.

So, do come to church,…read devotionals,…and look for signs of God’s love.
But when it helps…let the Spirit give you a glimpse of how much God loves you.
Let God take you on a short trip to how he wants things to be for us, where all is good.
Let the Spirit lift you up from this less than perfect world and give you God’s peace.

Amen