“I’m good pastor, I’m at peace.” Marcy and I ran into her about 7 years ago waitressing at our favorite breakfast diner in Tavares.
We knew her because she had been dating the father of one of our students who was in class with one of our boys.
She was a great potential stepmother to be, and truth be told we really hoped she would be the permanent stepmother…she was a great volunteer, ran a mean birthday party, and was fun to chat with at the requisite parent gatherings.
But the father had a different opinion about her and unfortunately the relationship did not last. This was first time we had seen her in months and our first chance to let her know we did miss her at school.
After her response, careful not to be nosey; we let it drop, letting her know were always here for her if she needed us.
Peace is such a whimsical reality, sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t.
But when we express that we have it, we want to convey that even if were not good, we are ok. As we used to say in the late 90’s; “It is what it is…”
That is not the peace Paul bespeaks of in his letter to the church in Rome today.
When Paul speaks UTIOTHS, this is not accepting present realities beyond our control…
Martin Luther describes it best by saying, “…this is the real peace of conscience and trust in God.” (W, LVI 297)
And we trust in God, because we stand righteous in God’s sight. Not righteous because of ourselves but rather because we have been made righteous!
How something is made…is a concept that fascinates me. I am always blown away how seemingly innocuous material; like iron, cocoa leaves and chemicals can be made into something useful like razor blades, chocolate and pillows!
In the hands of the agriculturist, the metallurgist, and the chemist otherwise useless material to me becomes items I never knew I could live without!
An inert item in the hands of a master makes it what it could never be without the master’s touch.
That fascination does not stop at the doors of the church. I am always amazed at whom God uses to achieve wonderful testimonies to His eternal glory.
Whether it is the humble shut in that expresses their profound trust in God even though their life seems too difficult to bear, or the generosity of an individual that comes through with providing for ministry needs, or the heartfelt individual that opens their home to the homeless…
I am ceaselessly amazed at how God makes people extraordinary in order to achieve His purposes.
Indeed God showers His peace on the church again and again by reinforcing our trust in Him through these miraculous reminders.
We don’t have to trust fate, we don’t have to trust that things will work out, and we never have to trust that we can handle it; because it is what it is.
Through God’s Proclaimed Word we can infinitely and completely trust Him. It that is why we always have hope!
No doubt we all have our own story to tell. Just 12 years ago National Public Radio started to capitalize on them through their Story Corps initiative.
The idea was that people could come and tell their stories in special mobile recording booths. Then the editors would play selected stories on their radio program. Needless to say it was a hit that still airs to this day.
But I was dismayed by the occasional stories that would have a decidedly ungodly bent, and could not be recommended by myself for spiritually edifying reasons.
I had the idea that we could tell our stories too that are always spiritually edifying; stories about the churches of days gone by, lifelong relationships started in church, and funny tales of shenanigans in worship with kids.
It really seemed to be a great idea until I realized why we should never save a certain time to tell a story and then archive it away for someone to listen to later, if ever listened to at all…
After all, who even knows what the primary mode of communication may be in the future…it could be a medium that all our current forms won’t correlate to and then all that archiving was in vain.
But even more important than even that, I realized why we should never save our stories for later, it’s because they are meant for here and now.
We are to share the stories of our trials and triumphs in our group devotions to God’s Word, over coffee at our fellowship hours, and after church in the excitement and joy of our Gathering together in Word and Sacrament.
These are the here and now stories that only make sense to the people who know the principle players in these acts and the scenes play out as an illustration of life that God gave us to encourage one another in time.
Whilst our lives matter all the time, our stories matter the most in our time!
These are the current stories of suffering that lead to redemption by Christ’s forgiveness and love.
These are the examples of God’s people coming together for those who are hurting, so Christ can heal their wounds and bind up their broken hearts.
These are the tales of Christ’s long suffering patience with His’ beloved sinners as He made them saints.
These are our stories, and the only story that makes our stories matter is Christ ultimate life, death and resurrection!
Jesus who did nothing wrong, died for all who did everything wrong. The greatest story ever told is historically, geographically and archeologically all completely true.
And that is the problem with so many stories these days, they’re just not true.
News Media either misses important facts or neglects to look at all sides of the issue of the day.
The internet runs rampant with political objectives, pathetically poor polling or flat out fake news.
And movies based on “Actual Events” are hardly in touch with the real story as artistic license moves the plots along at a bearable pace.
Even with fiction movies it has gotten so bad, a YouTube© channel called Cinema Sins© catalogues all the things wrong with movies that simply throws the laws of physics, logic and reasonable discourse out the window in the name of entertainment.
If Hollywood can’t even be trusted with fiction, why do we trust them with the truth?
Christian movies aren’t always any better; they move plot lines along in the spirit of that same artistic license rather than in service to biblical truth; just a cursory look at the bible whilst viewing shows horrendous gaps in the inspired Word of God.
To all this, believe it or not, I SAY HORAY!
As long as they all blow it…we get to own the truth of God!
When Superman flies into the sky with the voiceover of his Father Jor-El saying, “He will be the savior of the World”
We get to shout from the audience of that theater, “NOPE, NADDA, NO WAY; ONLY JESUS COULD AND DID DO THAT!”
When science fiction movies suggest we are just a couple of scientific discoveries from healing the body so everyone can live forever…
…We get to remind them that only one body gives us eternal living and that was Christ’s body crucified on the cross!
And when the pagan, atheistic and ignorant ones claim they have achieved all knowledge so as to call themselves God…
…We can remind them of Pharaoh, and every plague, brought by the one true God, down upon Egypt to specifically show Yahweh’s Power over their “So Called” Gods.
(LSB Note Exodus 7:14-12:32)
No God can contend with the Only True God and Remain therefore in positions of power!
And therein lays our peace.
Our Story is no Story at all, it’s His Story!
Our God is no statue or fly or frog or Fantasy it is the Triune Father Son and Holy Ghost.
Our Peace is no satisfaction with unsatisfying circumstances; it is absolute assurance in the One True God.
So may that peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus always. Peace be with You. Amen.