The Prince of Peace and His Message: Reconciliation

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is Risen Indeed. Alleluia.

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

By now, most of us have heard the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. And, for most of us this is a significant event, an event of National importance, for a great deal of resource has been expended in searching for him since the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. During this past week, many have expressed a sense of thankful joy at his demise. One news commentator was even quoted as saying that the world was somehow a safer place since bin Laden’s death. But perhaps such is not the case. For as in a garden, when once an evil and noxious weed has been removed, there generally arises two or three others to take its place.

Whether that may or may not be so, that the world is a safer place, in some ways there is little sense of satisfaction for the death of one man who caused the death of so many. Bin Laden’s death may be seen by some as justice, but it certainly is not restitution for the consequence of his message of hate.

Please understand that my remarks are not intended to denigrate the service of the men and women of our armed forces in this war against terrorism. Often I have spoken with gratitude for their service and sacrifice which insures the freedoms that you and I enjoy. I remain profoundly thankful for them and for their service and self-sacrifice.

The memory of that day, 9-11-01, will forever remain etched in our national collective awareness and the death of one, even one so personified as the very presence of evil does little to mitigate against the loss of life destruction, and the pain caused to many that day.

Now, we live, as we well know, in a period of time which is known more for its polarization rather than its tolerance. Every night we have it brought into our consciousness how there are red states and blue states. Every night we have brought before us the various ways in which people on opposing sides of the aisle differ from one another.

In this era of intemperance there is the tendency to circle the wagons and to demonize those who are not within the circle. So, even if we know better, as I’m sure that most of us do, still I find incumbent to stand before you today and remind you that not all Muslims are supporters of bin Laden and his ilk.

But the sad reality is that there are whack-jobs and extremists in the Muslim world just as there are whack-jobs and extremists within Christianity. Just as it would not be a fair assessment of Christianity to characterize it by the likes of Jim Jones, who was the cult leader who led his people to mass death at Jonestown in Guyana in 1978, so too it is not a fair assessment of Islam to characterize it by the likes of bin Laden and the others of his ilk. While masking under the guise of religious fervor, the real agenda of these extremists is not the furtherance of religious life, but the promotion of hatred, and suspicion, murder and death under the guise of religious life.

It is probably not the popular message to proclaim this Mother’s Day, as we gather for worship. Certainly it is not the popular message in the world. But we would do well to be reminded that He whose resurrection we celebrate is the prince of peace. In Christ, God was reconciling the world to God, making peace through the blood of his cross. Those, of course, are not my words. They are Saint Paul’s from Colossians 1.20f. We celebrate in this Easter season that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, and, as such we are called to give ourselves to the work of reconciliation.

Now, I know that reconciliation is a messy, difficult task. And I know that at best it is hard, uphill work. And that mostly our human attempts at reconciliation end up being botched, messed up, broken, causing more division in the world rather than healing—because it takes the grace of Jesus to bring healing, peace and reconciliation.

We can hardly effect reconciliation among friends and families—for if we could, there would not be so many broken relationships in the world.

Well you may ask, if we cannot heal the broken relationships among families, how indeed could we do such a thing between disparate sides of the aisle? How can we transcend the partisan nature of politics on even the smallest of issues, let alone the big ones? How can we be agents of reconciliation in the face of irreconcilable differences?

Maybe we cannot; most certainly we cannot of our own accord. But we are challenged to try in the name of Jesus. For me, the reminder of how we are supposed to try to be ambassadors of the healing love of Jesus is found in the collect for mission at Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, page 100.

” O God, you have made of one blood all the people of the earth, and you sent your blessed son to preach peace to those who are far off and those who are near. Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your Kingdom. Amen.”

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About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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