Known by our fruit: peace
July 15, 2018
Carroll First UMC
Sing with me “I’ve got peace like a river I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. I’ve got peace like a river I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”
Do you? Do we? We all want peace. Boy, do we want peace! It seems like life is so complicated and conflicted and controversial sometimes that we would do anything for peace.
People want peace so desperately that the try to find it by escaping into a bottle of alcohol or pills. That doesn’t work.
We try secluding ourselves away from news or relationships. That doesn’t work.
Some find peace in nature, but then there is a hurricane or an earthquake that is anything but peaceful.
No, there is only one source of peace…God. God is the source and the goal of all peace. In the middle stands the church called to bear the fruit of God’s peace to all creation.
This series is called “Known by Our Fruit.” The premise is that the fruit of the spirit not only fills us as individuals, but they fill our church. In fact, they pour out of our church in our various ministries.
We talked about Love: and we want people to say “Look how they love one another.” We talked about joy: and we want people to say “Look how the joy of the lord gushes out in their worship.” Today we talk about peace.
Galatians was, of course, written in Greek, but the biblical concept of peace goes back to the Hebrew word Shalom. Now Shalom is bigger than lack of conflict. The Hebrew root for Shalom means “nothing broken… nothing missing.”
Shalom is better defined as “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.”
Look at shalom this way. “God created the world to be a fabric, for everything to be woven together and interdependent.
If I throw a thousand threads onto the table, they wouldn't be a fabric. They'd just be threads lying in a big pile.
Threads become a fabric when each one has been woven over, under, around, and through every other one. The more interdependent they are, the more beautiful they are. The more interwoven they are, the stronger and warmer they are. God made the world with billions of entities, but not individual entities. Rather, God made them to be in a beautiful, harmonious, knitted, web of interdependent relationship with one another."
Shalom is the beautifully woven… harmonious… knitted… webbed interdependence of all creation. It encompasses us and all of creation
People beautifully woven, harmoniously knitted, into a web of relationship with God.
Neighbors and strangers beautifully woven, harmoniously, knitted into a web of relationship with each other.
Friends and former enemies beautifully woven, harmoniously knitted into a web of relationship with one another.
The rich and the poor, people of all sexual orientations, theological bents, political camps, nationalities, the prisoner and the guard, the criminal and the victim, the Christians and Muslims and Jews, all beautifully woven, harmoniously knitted into a web of relationship with one another and everyone else in the world
And all of us beautifully woven, harmoniously, knitted into a web of relationship with creation caring for all that God has given us; the land, the water, the air, the sky, the trees, the animals and all living plants celebrating the interdependence of all creation.
That is the way God made us. That is the shalom of God. That is the fruit of peace we sang about flowing like a river over all the earth.
That is the fabric of God’s shalom.…
but the fabric is torn. The weaving is broken.
Men, women, children go hungry.
People are separated from one another by race, language, nationality, and religion.
Families are homeless.
People live in loneliness.
We neglect our care for the earth.
To bear the fruit of the spirit of peace is to work for the universal flourishing wholeness of all people and creation.
Micah 6:8 the new international version puts it this way, “act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Until all people are treated justly there can be no shalom. Until all people receive mercy… which means being treated better than they deserve… there can be no shalom. Until all people are walking humbly with God there will be no shalom.
To bear the fruit of the spirit of peace means to treat all creation with justice, mercy, and holy humility.
This is the work of Christ. In Chapter three of Luke Jesus reads Isaiah’s vision of the work of shalom “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, (He said) because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
To bear the fruit of the spirit of peace means to work for the end of poverty, captivity, sickness, and judgment. And that spirit of peace is upon the church. It is upon us.
In Matthew 25 Jesus got very specific. He told us it doesn’t start with politics and policy. You can’t solve all the world’s problems all at one time. But that when we love an individual with justice, mercy, and humility we are loving Jesus. One person at a time is the road to Shalom.
Yes. It might require political action or lobbying. Yes, it might be creating a program or a new ministry. But that is not where it starts. It starts is with one thread at a time. One person at a time. Seeking justice and mercy for that one person. Seeking “not brokenness” for that one person. Sharing the shalom we know with them. Weaving our thread over and under and around their thread to include them in God’s beautifully woven, harmonious, knitted web of interdependence that is shalom.
What would it mean for our church to bear the fruit of shalom for the child who doesn’t have enough to eat this summer because the school lunch is their only meal most of the year? I guarantee that child lives here in Carroll.
What would it mean for our church to bear the fruit of shalom for the family that moved into town with nothing, not even an ability to speak the language? I don’t care where they are from or what their status is they are part of that beautiful fabric of Shalom.
What would it mean for our church to bear the fruit of shalom for the homeless families in our midst? You think there aren’t any… the percentage is low, but the best guess is that 16 families are homeless in Carroll county at any given time. What would it mean for us to weave them into the fabric of shalom in our community?
What would it mean for our church to bear the fruit of shalom for the child facing depression who has to go to Ames to get an appointment with a psychiatrist at a time a parent can take them? What would it look like to wrap them in a blanket of shalom?
One more… What would it mean for our church to bear the fruit of shalom for the isolated elderly? For instance, their eyesight has deteriorated so they don’t drive. Their medicines are expensive so we don’t meet them at the restaurants. It is hard for them to walk so they don’t do much but go to the doctor and Fareway because it is the smallest of the grocery stores. They are almost invisible to most of us. But what would it mean to weave them back into the fabric of God’s shalom?
I am not suggesting any specific ministry or legislation, or anything. What I am calling for is for us to first be aware of the people around us… and then love them enough to walk humbly with them… to seek justice and mercy for them…and do whatever it takes to embrace their sacred worth and weave them into our lives, our church, our community, our state and nation and God’s kingdom.
The UMC has a long history of working for shalom as individual members and through the Board of Church and Society. In fact, it is so important that we publish the social principles as a conversation guide and starting place for working for peace and justice for all people.
You will find a link to the social principles in your bulletin and up on the screen after the social creed. Read them. Study them. Use them to guide you in your ministry of bearing the fruit of peace to all the world.
Let’s join together in reading the social creed.
OUR SOCIAL CREED (websites on back of bulletin)
Leader: God in the Spirit revealed in Jesus Christ, calls us by grace
People: to be renewed in the image of our Creator, that we may be one in divine love for the world.
Leader: Today is the day God cares for the integrity of creation, wills the healing and wholeness of all life, weeps at the plunder of earth’s goodness.
People: And so shall we.
Leader: Today is the day God embraces all hues of humanity, delights in diversity and difference, favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.
People: And so shall we.
Leader: Today is the day God cries with the masses of starving people, despises growing disparity between rich and poor, demands justice for workers in the marketplace.
People: And so shall we.
Leader: Today is the day God calls for nations and peoples to live in peace, celebrates where justice and mercy embrace, exults when the wolf grazes with the lamb.
People: And so shall we. Today is the day God brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, gives sight to the blind, and sets the oppressed free. And so shall we.