This post is part of a guest blogger series on The Peace of Christ. For this Sunday morning, a reflection from Derrick Weston:
“The peace of Christ be with you”
“And also with you”
Typically in our liturgy we find these words immediately after we have confessed our personal and corporate sins and have been reassured that, in Christ, those things that have separated us from God have been forgiven. This placement can teach us something crucial about what the peace of Christ means in our lives.
First and foremost it reminds us of the old adage “no justice, no peace”. II Corinthians 5:17-19 helps us to make some sense of this:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
For the peace of Christ to be a reality in our lives we must first be aware that in Christ justice has been served. The debt of sin, that we could never ourselves repay, is fully cancelled and our ability to have relationship with God is fully restored. The peace of Christ, in this instance, is the peace that now exists between humanity and God through Christ.
Fortunately, the ministry of reconciliation is not just about us being in right relationship with God. It is also about us being in right relationship with others. The peace of Christ is the recognition that the restoration of human relationships goes hand in hand with the restoration of the human/Divine relationship. It is also the recognition that human relationships also require that justice be done before there can be restoration. The knowledge of the extent to which we have been forgiven in Christ should lead us to a place offering (and receiving) forgiveness. The understanding of the act of justice that occurred on the cross should strengthen us to work for justice in this world, particularly for those who have been oppressed, abused, and marginalized.
These recognitions bring us to one additional understanding about the peace of Christ. It is, in fact, a Kingdom peace. In other words, it is a peace that is and is not yet. It is a peace that is here and is coming. It is a peace that we work for in full knowledge that the work has been done.
At the Pittsburgh Project, we often say that our homeowner night is a glimpse of the Kingdom. The students, who have come to Pittsburgh to serve vulnerable homeowners, invite those homeowners to dinner midweek. The dinner is followed by a worship service. In the midst of this event, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, able-bodied and disabled, come together to break bread and celebrate that we are all apart of the body of Christ. The things that divide us seem to melt away, if only for brief moments, as we gather around those things that unite us. It is a reminder that this is what we strive for. This is that for which we hope and pray. We remember God’s goodness to us and do all within our power to share that goodness with others. For those few moments, the peace is realized and yet we are reminded that there is still so much more to be done to see that all of God’s children can sit around the table and celebrate in harmony and equity.
Derrick Weston is a native of Southwest PA who studied film at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his Masters of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary and is currently a candidate for ministry in the Pittsburgh Presbytery. Derrick is the mission advancement manager for the Pittsburgh Project, an urban community development ministry on the city’s North side. Derrick and his wife Marnie, whom he met while working at The Pittsburgh Project, will celebrate five years of marriage in August.