I guess, I’m back to my familiar greeting, “Dear Friends through Christ Jesus.” You know, most of us like familiar. We feel comfortable with familiar. Yet, if we call ourselves Christian, Jesus is calling us to step outside, to the unfamiliar. I don’t know if any of you have watched the TV series titled “The Chosen.” At first, I was a little leery, but so far the show is well worth the time. It is the story of Jesus, told in a manner that brings the characters alive. Their reactions to what is going on around them almost seems too familiar. In the scene I just watched, Jesus has just sent the disciples out two by two. They are to proclaim the good news, heal the sick and cast out demons. Holy Moly, you should have seen the looks on their faces. Their faces are the familiar faces when we are informed that is what we should be doing—going to our friends, our family (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandkids), even strangers, proclaiming the good news. Why? Because you are sharing a gift which can bring you and that person peace. By simply being familiar with Jesus and his teachings, a person can have peace. Folks, how simple does that sound?
Some of you might be saying, “Hey, pastor, simple for you. You’re a pastor.” But guys and gals, that has nothing to do with having Jesus on your mind and living out of your baptism. Case in point, of course right now I’m thinking about Jesus, and also in a little bit when record my message for the internet, but what about the next two or three days (hopefully two), when a few of us at church will be painting the old food pantry, then stripping and waxing four thousand square feet of dirty floors. Oh, by the way, our fire alarm system is being installed as we speak, and the food pantry is now located in the building right next to the church offices. We are moving forward, even if, ever so slowly. Anyway, when I am waxing floors for the next few days, doing something familiar, (I was a custodian at a church while in seminary), while waxing, sweating and hurting, slipping and sliding, having fun at the same time, Jesus will be very close—a thought away. You see, I can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can always be close to Jesus, no matter what we are doing—our Lord is a thought away.
Want to carry this concept of familiarity and peace a little farther, or is it further? Think of all the stuff that is happening in the world today, overwhelming a person might say. I could mention the war in Israel or the war in Ukraine, or the other eleven wars. Have you ever seen our political divisions so bad? Our country seem to want to live in the extremes of the right and left. Climate really does seem to be getting quite weird, don’t you think? And I don’t know about you, but our youth really do act differently. I could probably ramble for pages about all the stuff that is not good. But why? Why in the world would I waste my mind, time, energy, getting in arguments, getting mad, worrying, about something that I can do nothing about, nothing. These things take my peace. The world has been having stuff happen since the beginning of history, and if WWIII, or something like that breaks out, guess what? I still have Jesus very close—a thought away. I still have peace.
After all, where would you rather spend your time and energy, your life? Thinking about stuff that is out of your control or thinking about Jesus, who is close, very close—a thought away? God is offering a peace that passes understanding through believing in the words of Jesus. Folks, again how simple does that sound?
Sure, I can and should pray for all the stuff that is out of my control, but then I must let it go, let God. Now I can focus upon what I can control—right now. How, in this moment do I live to the glory of God? I live through my baptism—today—right now—I think about Jesus.
Am I being kind to my spouse, child, neighbor, the guy who just honk his horn at me—am I kind—right now? Do I make snide remarks to my brother-in-law because it makes me feel better, knowing that Jesus disapproves? Do I take care of creation, the best way I know how—today? But most of all, do I love, do I work toward the benefit of those I am around—right now? I actually make a small contribution to the good of a world in God’s hands. Anytime I realize Jesus is close—a thought away, I have peace.
Basically, in a nutshell that is what I do for a living, I share peace. I am a minister of Word and Sacrament, helping people become more familiar with Jesus and his teachings, helping people to use the mysteries of Baptism and Communion, so that, they too may understand Jesus is always close—a thought away. Think Jesus and there can be peace. Nothing else to worry about. Now the unfamiliar is much less frightening, and we can go and share this peace!
In Christian Love,
Pastor David Trexler