Devotional 3/30/2020 Fruit of the Spirit- Peace

I think it is fair to say we all have favorite hymns.  I think it is simply a matter of preference- I do not think my favorites are better than other hymns.  I just like them a little more.  

One of my favorite hymns is "Let There Be Peace on Earth."   We do not sing it very often in church because a) I try not to overplay my favorites and b) it is a little short to fill the normal hymn allotment. 

In case you are not familiar with it here are the lyrics: 

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,

let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.  

With God our creator, children all are we. 

Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.  

Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now. 

With every step I take, let this b my solemn vow: 

to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. 

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  

If you would like to listen here is one of many options on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_DxNpW1kHQ

Peace is something we are called to cultivate as Christians.  It is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  Meaning when we are firmly grounding in our faith, when are rooted in God, then we will have peace.  And what this hymn reminds us is that that peace starts within ourselves.  It does not matter what is going on around you, this peace should remain.  Nothing in this world can touch this peace- war, strife, difficulties, and not COVID-19.  

Even though this peace is within us, when we have it it is certainly visible and more than that it seems a bit contagious.  Before her death in 2018, Rev Valarie Stultz was my spiritual mentor.  What that basically means is that she met with me and made sure I was attending to my own spiritual growth while I was helping others pursue theirs.  Valerie was one of those people you just loved to be with.  In her presence, things were clearer, understandings deeper, passion stronger.  And part of this was Valerie's deep sense of peace.  Valerie was not short on any fruit of the Spirit but she had peace in abundance.  And when I sat in her presence, that peace radiated over to me as well.  Which is true of many people who knew Valerie.  

Peace is inward but it is felt with an unbelievable power.  But we would be wrong to think that this is a fruit that just occurs naturally and you either have or you do not.  We are all to strive for peace.  A peace that starts in us but is shared with all we meet. 

Right now there are alot of people who do not have peace.  Our entire way of life has been disrupted.  We do not worship like normal, we don't shop or eat out like normal, many of us don't work like normal, we don't see friends like normal, we don't even enjoy entertainment or play like normal.  And that has led to many people feeling stress or anxiety.  In this time, we need to focus on cultivating peace- not waiting until it is all better but right now in this time and place.  Because our peace is not reliant on any of these things actually.  Our peace comes from knowing God, being loved by and loving God, and by being saved by Jesus Christ.  Not one of these things,is touchable by COVID-19.  

I know for many this is made even worse by the knowledge sinking in that we will most likely not worship normally on Easter morning.  For some of you, this will be your first Easter not in a church and for some of you that is quite a few Easters.  But I will remind us all that the first Easter was not in a church and it went pretty well (this is pretty much my new motto so get ready to hear it again) Our peace is not from being in a church building, but rather from taking time to be in the presence of God- which we will do in creative ways!  Our peace is from attending to our faith and our relationship with God.  Our peace is from caring for our neighbor and from being part of a loving community.  And all of these remain!  

Today I want you to attend both to your relationship with God and to your peace.  Do not let the news or the changes we have had destroy this fruit. I invite all of us to read John 14:25-27.  Make a list of what is troubling your heart and then pray that all those be lifted from you.  Not removed like you no longer care, but rather put in their right place.  Pray that you may accept the peace that Jesus has offered you.  

Throughout this day, I invite you to every time you get stressed, anxious, mad or any other way you are lacking peace to pray the following short prayer (short enough to memorize- hint, hint): 

Lord, I give to you these troubles of my heart.  And I accept the peace you offer.  I trust in your grace and presence.  Amen.  

Peace is not always easy or automatic.  Like all fruits of the Spirit it must be cultivated. But do not wait for the world to have peace to seek it or you will never have peace.  Instead remember that peace on earth begins with you.