SERMON TITLE: “Peace Be with You”
SERMON TEXT: John 20:19-31
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: April 24, 2022, at First UMC
I hope it was meaningful for you to hear the Bell Tones play the Ukrainian National Anthem. When I first read the translation of the lyrics, I almost cried. Those are such powerful words: “Ukraine is not yet dead . . . Our enemies will vanish . . . we . . . will rule in our land . . . [and] we’ll not spare either our souls or bodies to get freedom.” No wonder the Ukrainian soldiers and citizens have such a will to stand up against the Russian aggression. No wonder they want so much to restore their land to peace.
Something else in today’s worship music inspired me. You probably didn’t notice this, but the hymn, “Christ Is Risen,” is sung to a traditional Polish tune. I thought that was a nice detail. The violence, chaos, and upheaval in Ukraine has been so horrific for the refugees who have been fleeing, but the generous help of the Polish people has provided tremendous compassion and peace.
What the world needs now is peace—in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in U.S. cities where there are endless shootings, and in so many other places. And hasn’t it always been that way—since the first family, when Cain killed his brother Abel?
I suppose that’s why Jesus said what he did to his disciples when he appeared to them on Easter evening. In the past few days they had experienced the trauma of his crucifixion, and then Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb. Mary Magdalene had reported seeing and talking with Jesus, but the others didn’t know what to make of that. Their thoughts and emotions would have been in a horrible jumble. And, so, they were hiding behind locked doors, afraid for their lives. And that’s when the resurrected Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you.”
Because we all long for physical, emotional, and spiritual peace, let’s take a look at John, chapter 20. Let’s see how we too can receive the blessing of God’s peace.