It is good that we are here at this moment and at this time. This weekend we are so honored and blessed to welcome the men and women of Pinellas county who put on a uniform to protect, serve and care for us. My first thought is to say thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your dedication, thank you for being servants for Peace here in Pinellas County.
My heart was lead to Ephesians 1:15-19 We thank God for you. Listen to St Paul ”
Therefore, I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might,”
This deep spirit of gratitude is the heart of why we are here tonight, thank for you and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives in dedicated service for us all.
These few weeks of the month of May serve as the constant reminder that we need you, are grateful to you because the nation and world we live in continues to be plagued by those who hate, kill and seek to destroy the very life of peace that we seek. Racism, domestic terrorism, separatism and out right disregard for the “Other” is the cancer that eats away and destroys life. The dignity and rights of those who look different, speak different, worship differently and simply are not like us are continuously targeted with violence and death. We saw it from Buffalo with an 18 year old domestic terrorist destroying life solely based on race, to Palo Alto California to shootings in Jack Farrell park as children played tag.
We are reminded today that you are crucial to our life here in Pinellas county as we simply seek to live, work, love and play where the sun shines brightly and so many seek to make their home amongst us.
The Gospel today from John teaches us that true peace comes when see willing to allow the Spirit of God to teach us that who ever loves God, God will come to them and dwell with them,
““I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,….will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
What does this word peace mean? In Jesus’ language of Aramaic the word for peace is Shlamo, or Shalom in Hebrew has a much deeper meaning. If we are to be Agents for Peace we must understand what Peace means and how we are being taught to embrace it. Slemo means may all that you need be provided, safety, a home, food, well-being, wholeness. All that is necessary for you to live, prosper and flourish in life be given to you. So in this full understanding of peace, our roles together assist in bringing about true peace. From guaranteeing a safe and affordable housing to live in, safe neighborhoods where children can play, to ensuring respectful and safe streets and roads to travel on, to providing emergency medical aide to secure life and saves lives. The development of Partnerships with faith leaders and congregations all lead to this Peace that We hear of today in the Gospel. To maintain cleaning and providing a safe environment for citizens where, they can live work and play. All of the dedication, sacrifices and hard work and sacrifices you make each day for the common good brings about peace! We all must remember and never forget God dwells with us, God’s Spirit teaches us, to see in all persons, encounters whether the homeless person with mental illness whose troublesome, the prostitute downtown, or the kid whose steeling a car, or the elderly who is sick, fallen or transitioning, to the man drunk or high sleeping on the road side, in each instance, circumstance, God is dwelling there. God is present in every action and decision whether it protects and promotes life, or takes life God is there. We do your very best, our true self and all we can bring to provide peace, understanding and love, then leave the rest to God. We must act, live and engage in away that we recognize that God is present, and he is the ultimate giver of peace.
When I first came to this neighborhood my first insight is get to know by name the people that you are serving, both inside the church and those in the neighborhood. I began to simple walk and pray through these streets alone, daytime and even nights. I got to know the drug dealers and drug users. Ill never forget my first Christmas I had a beer with the drug dealer across the street, i brought a tricycle for his son, food for his table. He gave me advice on not shutting the people out with fences, but allow people to move about freely.
I firmly believe that walking amongst our people, talking with them even as they smoked their weed or drank their 40 ounce that God is still in their midst, dwelling with and loving them. Maybe not so loving what they are doing but loving them as person in the Divine image in which they have been created.
St. Francis of Assisi: Make me an instrument of your peace.
In the example of Francis lets be Agents of peace.