Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Christ of Saint John of the Cross
Salvador Dali

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division!

Jesus the Prince of Peace.
The one who says the way of the kingdom is the way of forgiveness.
The one who showed us that God’s love is for everyone.

Yet here he is saying he didn’t come to bring peace to world, but division.

Does this make the angels at his birth liars?
 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
  and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
In his farewell speech, Jesus says:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
My peace, not the peace of the world, but the peace of God.

What is the difference?

We need to see how peace occurred in Jesus time.
There was a ritual called the scapegoat.
In this ritual, all the wrongs, all the evils, sins, bad stuff was prayed onto a goat,
and the goat was sent off and ran away.
In this ritual, the community was cleansed of all their wrongs.
All was put onto the goat.
The goat was a sacrifice for the community, so they could all get along.
Any animosity between people was put onto the goat, and went away.
This system worked.

If you think about it, we still do this.
We place all our anxieties onto people, or a group of people.
We put all our anger and resentment onto a group, and we release all those feelings onto that group.
We are bound together by our mutual dislike of them.
Peace prevails because all the negative feelings are placed onto someone or a group of people.
They become the problem.

Think about football. Think about how everyone hates Manly in the NRL.
In Rugby Union, think about how all New Zealanders are bound in the mutual hatred of Quade Cooper.
You see this happen.
People are joined together in their mutual dislike of something.
Peace prevails among them, but at the cost of the other.
The scapegoat.

That is how the world gets peace.
A constant move of putting someone of the outer.

Think about Hitler and the Jewish people. All Germany’s woes were because of the Jews.
What about our own time and place.
For us it is asylum seekers. They are the people put on the outer.
Australia’s worries will cease if we get rid of the asylum seekers.
Or it is Muslims, or teenagers, or Asians, or mining companies, or greenies, or feminists, or faceless men.
Old people, teenagers, baby boomers…
Any group can become the one that is the one on the outer, that becomes the bonding agent for everyone else because of everyone hating them.

Jesus’ way of peace is not this way.

He gave himself up as the scapegoat, he allowed himself to be crucified in order to reveal the innocence of all who have been victims of this behaviour.
By doing so, he takes away our way of disowning our own violence and hatred.
He takes away our option of placing all that onto the other.
With his sacrificial death, he became the scapegoat to end all scapegoats.

But this is where the division comes in.

Our way of peace is sin which the Lamb of God comes to take away.
So what happens in between the taking away of our peace and our embracing of God's peace? Division.

By depriving people of the main way they have to disown violence and hatred by putting it onto to others, doesn’t mean it goes away. It ends up coming out much closer to home:

From now on five in one household will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
they will be divided:
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

The violence is out in the open. And we have to choose.

The way of peace in the world is the way of blaming someone else,
making a group the cause of all issues.
Society is glued together by this.
The scapegoat takes it all everyone is happy.
Until the peace dissapates and another scapegoat is needed. And so on.

The peace of God is different.
There is no other. Everyone is in.
There is no one to blame because we are all in it together.
The peace that Jesus gives is unlike peace in our time.
It is true.
It is real.
It passes all understanding.

By Jesus allowing himself to be crucified, he was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

And that sin is not loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division! 

That division will continue as long as we don’t love our neighbour, as long as we keep people out, as long as we keep trying to attain peace the way the world does, not as God does.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
My peace, not the peace of the world, but the peace of God.

No comments: