e-letter 4/19/18

I have heard so many positive comments about our new sermon series, “Peace Works.” Last week, we talked about God’s vision for peace and the role we play as peace-makers here on earth. God’s vision for creation is “shalom” — total wholeness and well-being for all of creation. If that’s God’s vision for creation, then what an honor it is for us, as people created in the Image of God, to play a role in that peace-making.
That’s why we are calling this series, “Peace Works.” Peace is God’s vision for creation, which can work, but peace also takes work on our part. We have a role to play in peace-making. Peace-making requires us to make a commitment, to be agents of reconciliation and change in the a world that desperately needs it. We as Christians get the joy to show others that another way is possible— a way of truth, love, and reconciliation.
One of the most moving songs in our United Methodist Hymnal is the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” No matter if I’m singing it in a congregation, hear it on the radio, or even hear it in a commercial, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. (It’s okay to admit it!)
It’s one of those songs that like many that came out in the 50s, 60s, and 70s were known for their ease of singing, straightforward texts, and prophetic messages. It was written by Sy Miller and his wife Jill Jackson-Miller. They collaborated together to produce a song that has become a iconic song for world peace.
In an interview on NPR’s program Humankind, Jill Jackson said this about her background and the context of the song. “When I attempted suicide [in 1944] and I didn’t succeed, I knew for the first time unconditional love—which God is. You are totally loved, totally accepted, just the way you are. In that moment I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me, which is very difficult to explain. I had an general moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.”
When Jill married Sy in 1949, they started writing songs together. In 1955, Jill wrote the lyrics for “Let There Be Peace on Earth” while her husband wrote the melody. You know the song, but here are some of the lyrics to remind you:
“Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!”
That is my prayer throughout this series and beyond: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. As we talk about peace-making, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. As we talk about entering into conversations with each other, let there be earth on earth and let it begin with me. As we enter into difficult subjects like human sexuality, let there be earth on earth and let it begin with me.
This Sunday we will focus on having hearts at peace. One of the ways we have a heart at peace is viewing people not as the labels we ascribe to them, but as human beings created in the Image of God. That’s a huge difference. We focus not on our judgmental values or bias about another person, but the way that God views them. Beloved children of God created by a loving God. No matter who they are, what they believe, what they look like— beloved children of God. Feel free to read Luke 7:36-50 before coming to worship this Sunday to see what Jesus had to say to Simon about the subject.
One of the ways we can proclaim, “Let there peace on earth and let it begin with me” is through the POV (Point of View) Workshops we will host on the first 3 Wednesday nights in May from 6:30-8:30pm. You can sign up for these conversations by clicking on this link, calling the Church Office, or on the sign up sheets at the Welcome Stations after worship in the Lobby.
I hope that you can pray, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” with me during this series. It’s a tough prayer. It won’t be easy. But I truly believe Suntree UMC is a place that can not only pray it, but live it out faithfully. See you in worship this Sunday!
Cheers! Rob