Yesterday’s gospel lesson (John 14:23-29) spoke of the peace that Jesus gives to us; it’s a peace that the world cannot give. Our ability to endure, even thrive in the absence of worldly peace is rooted in this other-worldly peace that is Jesus’ gift.
Peace is on our minds today, Memorial Day. We, as a country, we, as citizens of a shared planet, and certainly we, as people of faith, long for peace that will last. It’s a longing that we inherited and will, assuredly, pass off to future generations. We haven’t found our way out of wars, yet, and it doesn’t appear we will anytime soon.
We can quibble over how many wars are going on presently (it’s all how you define these things; one list I saw counted 100-999 fatalities in the current or previous year as “minor conflicts” (they pointed to 28 of those), thus determining the current number of wars (1000+ causalities) at 10. Whether you count the number of wars as 10, 38, or some other number, the point is we lack peace, as in the absence of war. The results, of course, are an absence of peace for those who are fighting these battles and those who live near the battlegrounds and those who are away from the battles wondering about the condition of their loved ones and, ultimately, there is often an absence of peace for those who survive and return home. It’s why we’re asking you to pray this week for those who didn’t make it back (and their loved ones), as well as for those who came home unwell. As the South Carolina National Guard Assistant Adjutant General Jeff Jones told the Florence Rotary Club, Memorial Day is about remembering both those who didn’t come home and those who didn’t fully come home.
The peace we receive from Christ is given to us, whether we’re free of war or not, but until we’re freed from war, as his followers, it’s our job to pray for wars to end and for all who are caught up in them.