Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
This past week, I preached about our human nature to panic when we have lost something we hold dear. From experience, I know that we tend to panic when we fear losing something important as well.
As there were some technical difficulties with the sound for the worship service, I want to pick up on this theme again in our newsletter.
After his death, the disciples encountered the risen Christ. Jesus overcame all of their doubts by showing them his wounds and by inviting them to touch his body to see that he was truly flesh and bone – not some ghost or apparition or group hallucination! And then he ate some fish, proving that he was real – after all, ghosts don’t eat fish or anything else for that matter!
Jesus greeted them with the words, “Peace be with you,” which I translated in modern terms to mean, “Calm down; don’t panic.” And then he opened their minds to the scriptures and explained that everything that had happened to him was part of God’s plan of salvation for the world. And then he gave them a job – to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations in his name. Their story wasn’t over, even though it was changing.
Just like the disciples, our story at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Prairie isn’t over, although it is changing.
As Doug announced during his moment for mission this past Sunday, the session is working on a vision for the future of the church in light of our diminishing numbers and finances and our aging congregation. A vision that they hope will win the support of the entire congregation as we move forward into the future.
I encourage all of us to look up and see that the risen Christ is in our midst, telling us to “Calm down; don’t panic!”
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us – leading us, teaching us, and calling us to serve him by bearing witness to his love and grace in everything we say and everything we do.
While the future is unknown, it is something that we will face together and with Jesus Christ. As his church, we belong to him completely, in life and in death – every day, no matter the challenges or circumstances.
Peace be with you!