“Seek peace and pursue it.” Thus says our Psalm 34 this evening.
Peace too often means quiet. I ask the girls to turn down the volume on the television. I turn off the ringer on the phone, and shut the door to the den, because I want peace. That is not peace in the sense of wholeness or community. There are times when I want quiet and to be left alone, and times when I do not want quiet and to be left alone. There are not times when I’m okay with a lack of peace.
I know I am not alone in wanting more quiet. As we trudge through election season I long for quiet. I want it all to stop. But that would not be peace. That would be quiet. Quiet shuts down conversation. Quiet silences. Quiet picks on the marginalized. The powerful will be heard, no matter how quiet things are. Some of us will be comfortable if things are quiet. Others will not be comfortable, might not even survive, if they keep quiet. They must be heard. For these to be at peace, they cannot be quiet. For us, who follow a crucified God—a God in perpetual solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed—for us to be at peace, we cannot be quiet.
We are to “seek peace and pursue it.” Pursue. Chase it. Work for it. Live it. If I want peace in this season I must work for it, amplifying the voices of the marginalized. If I want quiet, that’s easy, maybe, if my life is one in which I will be okay if silenced. But such quiet undermines peace.
I don’t want to undermine peace. I want peace, because I believe in the one whom God has sent. I believe Christ crucified and risen is God. Jesus says in John, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom God has sent.” I love that sentence because you can understand it two ways and they’re both right. It can mean, “You wanna do God’s work? Believe in Jesus.” It can also mean, “God works. Believing in Jesus is God’s work. God the Holy Spirit believes for you.” God gives us this faith and believes through us and on our behalf, so that we believe in Christ.
How’s that work look on God’s side of things? That’s what the people ask Jesus: “What sign will you do so we believe?” Jesus replies, “I am the bread of life…who gives life to the world…the one who comes to me shall not hunger, and the one who believes in me shall never thirst. That work looks like God forever always giving Godself to the world, as though God were the very food and drink of all creatures.
In the world that we humans create—a world that is very real, with real consequences, yet follows rules that we mostly make up—in this world, I am relatively powerful compared to most human beings. (Maybe not here in town, though as a white male in his forties I’m pretty good; however, relative to most humans on earth, I’m doing well.) That’s the world as humans construct it. In the world as God creates it…I am insignificant. Yet God Godself gives me life every day. That gift shapes me. It changes me. It points me to others.
As we approach the Big Day—knowing there is so much going on not even under consideration or on a ballot—and as we anticipate the days after the Big Day—days which will happen regardless of outcomes—let us ask ourselves, “From whom am I not hearing? Whose voice is silent? On whose behalf can I not be quiet? These are anxious times. Seek peace. And pursue it.