Vicar's Letter August 2015
OUR MAIN SERVICES AT ST PHILIP AND ST JAMES -as do the services in many other denominations other than the Church of England - end with the exhortation ‘Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord’
These words can often be given and received without a great deal of thought.
They become over familiar and they come at a point when perhaps our thoughts are turning to others matters ‘now where did I put the car keys… I hope the dinner isn’t overcooking that sermon was a bit long this morning…’ or some other such mental distraction that takes us from where we are to where we are about to go.
Yet they are challenge, for our role as Christians is not simply – if it is simple – to live with Christ’s peace within our hearts but it is to live that peace in the world, not for our benefit but for the world’s. To do that positively in our relationships with other people is not practise the doormat humility of the weak. Letting others walk over us and calling it Christian meekness. No, this peace is a creative force stemming from a real understanding of God’s purpose for humankind.
This peace is not gained from withdrawing from the realities of life or protecting ourselves from the harsh winds of true existence by sheltering in dreams of what it will be like when peace comes - we are to use our skills of peace in the here and now to temper the world in which we are functioning.
Going in peace is part of our job description as Christians – it is not a pious hope, rather a positive action. Jesus lived out that peace. He sought the troubled, the anxious and sick, confronted the angry and vindictive and faced them with peace. He refused to be provoked into spite or pettiness.
And it certainly is a vulnerable role. Jesus the baby, at the mercy of inhospitable innkeepers and despotic rulers, Jesus the man at the mercy of violent soldiers and the bigoted religious. The Son of God in the hands of evil forces, yet he triumphed in the strength of peace.
To live out peace we need to live in peace. We need to gain that inner peace that comes from resting and trusting in Christ’s power – as Paul puts it ‘Jesus himself is our peace’. And peace can be found for us in so many different and unexpected places – Rutter’s anthem declares ‘deep peace in water, sun, moon, stars and light… and deep peace in Christ.’
So then, let us ‘Go forth into the world in peace, being of good comfort, holding fast to that which is good. Rendering to no man evil for evil, strengthening the faint hearted supporting the weak, helping the afflicted, honouring all men, Going in Peace, to love and serve the Lord.’
Revd Jane Parry