Back in Seminary my buddy Nate and I followed a common theme. We always said ‘Peace!’ to one another. Nate is a super cool pastor who lives in Florida. One time, much to my mother’s dismay, we painted his Grandpa’s house. His grandpa lived in Atlanta, and so after vicarage I headed to Atlanta to paint a house for a week. My mom was not thrilled because it meant I was not coming home right away after being gone for a year. You can imagine Atlanta in late July--it was blazing hot! We would freeze drinks just to survive the heat. The day always ended with a great meal and good conversations with his grandpa and grandma. Sadly, his grandma just passed away, but the great news is that she is now living in God’s Peace. One time I told Nate, “I get it, I know why you say ‘Peace.’ You are reminding me to go in God’s Peace.” Nate was like, “No man, I say it because I am cool.” Regardless, Nate is the whole reason I write God’s Peace at the end of my emails. I didn’t want to write Blessings or Sincerely because I wanted something unique that showed that I actually cared what I sent to people. Don’t read too much into that. I want people to have blessings. I am just not sure what blessings before my name means. Am I saying I’ve got lots of blessings? Am I making a statement that there are blessings out there so go get them? Am I pronouncing blessings over you? You catch my drift.
God’s Peace is something I am passionate about. We don’t receive true peace anywhere else in the world. There is nothing that can give us peace, but Jesus! Some of my favorite moments in life are when I am reading Scripture, and I come across the deep understanding of God’s Peace. We used to do a compline service at Concordia Chicago. (It was Concordia River Forest in my day.) During the service the lights were dimmed during the a cappella singing. Then, in the still of the night, these words were said right before service ended, “My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27). The power of Jesus’ words is always a reminder when I go searching for peace from the world. It’s plain to see, I am not going to find it. I will find some false sense of peace in money, clothes, a job, a car, or something else, but it will never really give me peace forever. The only place to find that kind of peace is with Jesus. He came to restore us and give us His Peace.
Lent is a reflection on the deep cost of that peace. Jesus had to fulfill the law and only through that fulfillment and His death and resurrection do we have peace. So when my emails say God’s Peace, you know why. The last thing I want to say to you that is more important than anything I wrote in my email is that I want you to have God’s Peace. No matter what your situation in life is, God can make it peaceful. Isn’t that crazy! I am serious. People look at me and say, “You have a five, a three, and a two year old? Your house must be crazy!” First off, I say, “It’s not that bad. The boys are about to turn six and four.” Then I get the eye rolls, along with such comments as, “That’s not that much better.” But I wish those doubters could just see the picture of us reading the Bible before bed. Abby comes and sits on my lap, and the boys sit on either side of me. Most of the time there is peace. They listen and point at the pictures and hear the story. And if we get home late, and I decide to just pray with them they ask, “Why aren’t we reading the Bible tonight?” We just started reading the Bible with Abby. There was no way I was going to try and get a one year old to sit and listen to the Bible. But she has been doing well with books lately, so we started. It has changed the boys’ routine since Abby goes to bed before them, but they are getting used to it. My point in all of this is that the one place where we can find peace after a crazy dinner, playtime, the fight with jammies, and all the questions, is in God’s Word. We find peace at the end of the day with Jesus. I want that for them for the rest of their lives. And in my heart is the desire that the whole world would know that. No matter the pain, heartbreak, illness, craziness, God gives peace. He left His Peace for you so…God's Peace