Year C, The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 9: July 3, 2022
Year C: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6:1-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
In today’s gospel Jesus has sent his advance team of 72 of his followers two by two out to every town and place where he was intending to go. And he sends them out with the shirt on their back, without any money, or an overnight bag, or shoes, or a briefcase containing a cell phone, laptop, handouts, Bible or Prayer Book, or theological education to do ministry. He tells them when they enter a house to first say Peace be upon this house. If folks share in that peace, then the peace of Jesus’ followers will rest on the inhabitants. If not, that peace will return to them.
We know that when we try to extend a greeting – when we give another a smile – that sometimes that smile is not acknowledged. So we know what these folks Jesus sent out experienced when they extended a greeting of peace and it was not returned.
What is this peace? It is more than the absence of war or disunity. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It is a greeting when meeting another, much like our saying hello. And it is also said when you leave – like our saying good-bye. It brackets our time together. However, Shalom is more than hello and goodbye. It is a wish for the welfare of the other for things like good health, wholeness, safety, and prosperity.
Shalom also means completeness, and soundness. It is the integration of two opposing positions. Rabbi David Zaslow wrote, ”Shalom brings together people who disagree so they will listen deeply to the other side. It is the people you do not agree with who have the greatest gift for you – the gift of the potential for wholeness.”
What if politicians on both sides of the aisle sat down and talked and really listen to each other and focused what is best for the citizens of this country than to try and obstruct the loyal opposition? What if they cared more for the people in their states than they care to work to be re-elected the day after they take office?
This 4th of July weekend many will be singing America the Beautiful. One of the verses begins, O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! That’s SHALOM!!!!!
We talk about peace being the end of war. However, it’s not Shalom when one side wins and the other loses. When there is an imbalance of power. Rabbi Zaslow writes, “Peace by force isn’t peace. Peace is the most non-force in the world.”
Our Presiding Bishop keeps saying, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” I believer that love is the way to peace. In English, we only have one word for love. The Greek has several. There is eros – erotic, passionate love. Philia – love of our family – Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love. Then there’s Agape. This is the love that Jesus calls us to exercise when he calls us to love God with all that we are and all that we have, and to love others as we want to be loved. We are not called to like everyone, we are called to love everyone. Love is not a noun – a warm fuzzy feeling – it is a verb – an action – an act of the will. It is seeking the best for the other, even when we do not feel good about the other. It means hanging in with the other, putting our own wants on hold, as we listen deeply to the other. This is the way to peace – to Shalom.
Shortly we shall confess our sins. We will recall those relationships where we are not in love and charity with others –where reconciliation needs to take place between ourselves and God and with others. After having confessed those things we did or failed to do, we are forgiven – absolved. The past is wiped away, and we can begin afresh. If you hear nothing else I say this morning, hear that when you are absolved you are forgiven. God has given you a clean slate. We carry around so much garbage that we need to drop – so much baggage we need to let go of. Let go of that stuff because God has forgiven you. The late Robert Capon said that God is always presenting us as perfect before God. We are forgiven and loved more than we will ever know. It is after we are absolved that we share that peace – that Shalom with others. We make real what is. We share the reconciliation of strained or broken relationships, and return to being in love and charity with our God and one another.
Practicing shalom is not always easy. It is difficult to love folks who are difficult and seem to try their best to be unlovable. However, let me suggest that by Living into our Baptismal Covenant is a way for us to share Shalom as we seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself. As we strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
May we share that peace – that Shalom of the Prince of Peace with all we meet as we reach out to the least, last, little and lost in this world. Sharing God’s peace with others is one way we experience the inbreaking of God’s reign – of God’s kingdom. May God’s kingdom come on earth as it exists in heaven. Shalom.
Blessing for this Sunday:
Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us. So be swift to love, make haste to do kindness, shower abundant hospitality on friend and stranger, walk in justice, that you may follow the path of mercy and love, And the blessing of God, who comes to us Unbidden, who for our lives was Broken, and in whose Spirit we are guided into wholeness and holiness of lie, be upon you and those whom