Sermons

Collision of Peace

Blessed is the Lord,
and blessed are God’s people
to whom God sends a savior, the messiah,
who is Christ the Lord.
Blessed is our God,
and blessed are God’s gifts,
that grace us with forgiveness
and every good gift.
Lord, you have come to dwell within us.
Build your temple within our hearts. Amen

A Collision of Peace

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace.

What brings you peace?

During the Advent season a few years back, our family was enjoying conversation around the dinner table, and Lysander wondered out loud at the implications of God’s creative intent in the beginning: He asked, What if we have always had the ability to do magic, but God hid the knowledge of it from us because God knew we would not use it with an understanding of the bigger picture? And we tossed out ideas and questions like, What if we have always had the ability to make full use of and command of the physical world—manipulation of laws of physics (as we understand them), if you will? But, because God knew, because of our limited capacity we might use it for ill, God hid it from us?

When Adam an Eve ate the fruit, what happened, exactly? It isn’t that God did not want us to possess knowledge, per se. Rather, perhaps it was that we would generate, implement that knowledge apart from God, formulate a line of thinking diverging from that which results from being perfectly unified with God in Spirit. By eating the fruit, something was triggered in the physical world that initiated the law of physics that is expressed by entropy—everything began to decay, fall apart, die. My body is feeling that entropy in very real ways these days . . .

And then, the garden was hidden. Where did it go? What if God is keeping it hidden until that time when we are able to see God as God IS—the final redemption, the Kingdom on earth, Jerusalem come down. What if Jerusalem that will come down is, in truth, Eden revealed to us again? And, it will be revealed in that we are able to see it? to enjoy that perfect union with God in the perfect climate of the garden, all things held together.

What brings you peace?

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace.

Fairly recently, in the field of physics someone developed a simplified (for physicists, at any rate) model, or sketch, to describe what happens after particles collide. Nima Arkani-Hamed, a Princeton physicist, discovered a shape that could describe the condensed calculations involved in all the possible outcomes of particle collisions, and called it the multidimensional amplituhedron.

What is interesting is it can only be conceived when allowing the originating point of the particles – the source of the first particle – to be located outside of space-time, a constraint that scientists now concede is unfortunate. How can they test such a thing, right? But, to understand this mass of equations one must change perspective from what has been accepted wisdom and permit alternatives to the universe we all thought we knew.

According to this new model, the collision still happens in our space-time, but it is only possible to really understand the potentials of collision effects when first the scientist allows the originating point to occur outside it.

The most complex, profound collisions – human beings living and moving and loving together (infinitely more complex than particle physics, right?!) – create a sequence of pure life-giving energy that we can only begin to understand if the origin of that life-spark is located outside space-time. It is a complex, beautiful, terrifying multidimensional human experience, existence.

What brings you peace?

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”(Mt5:9)

Jesus taught, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’”(Lk10:5)

And as he neared Jerusalem, whose name itself – foundation of peace – cried, “If you had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” (Lk19:42)

Jesus came “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk1:79)

The brilliant artist, and really, theologian, Everett Patterson, created the picture I have here. It is titled, “Jose y Maria.” He says of the drawing, “A word on perspective: for this image, I chose very, very wide vanishing points. The result is what I occasionally call ‘middle-class white people perspective.’ Rather than feeling immersed in the scene, the viewer is looking at it as if from across the street or from the warmth and safety of his or her passing car. I have a small hope that this Christmas image will come to mind when we see other ‘down and out’ people huddling outside of gas stations, reminding us that our Savior’s parents (and indeed, Jesus himself) were at one time similarly troubled.”

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace.

I love the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and make it a regular centering breather prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

It first assumes that peace will exist in me – that the source for that peace I’m meant to be instrumental in sharing – must dwell within me. It is only then that I might orchestrate even a single line of peace. And then, if we are a community of instruments of peace, imagine the symphony we might perform?! Because, do you know what happens when 2 particles collide? Well, an entire universe can be created – well, initiated, anyway. But, really, anything can happen – but something always happens. Mass happens – something tangible, something real. Life.

As I pray St. Francis’ prayer, line by line, center your breathing, allow your thoughts to draw inward, toward the center, where Jesus resides.

Breathing in, notice the source and energy of that peace that Jesus brought into the world at his birth.

Breathing out, carefully loosen your grasp of all the little things that really are unimportant.

Breathe in the particle, the bundle of quarks that collide with yours to create, to spark a chain of living events a multifaceted peace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

This week of Advent focuses on peace, the peace that Christ came to bring. As you can imagine, our Sunday dinner conversation this week was filled with beautiful imaginings regarding the effect peace might have on all of creation. And, if it has anything to do with our eyes being opened to the forces and particles and physical universe we can measure only from this very limited end—seeing the possibilities that lie outside what is not possible to conceive—even the thought of seeing it is thrilling!

But, how easy is it for me to get absorbed and crushed by the simplest of setbacks or irritations. How quickly I can be waylaid by a thoughtless remark, or not being able to find something fast enough! Yet, that is what Christ came for—the possibility to live outside those irritations—and even those more profound griefs. Christ made it possible to be at peace with the One who is outside of space-time, while meeting me in it. Not all will be able to see and enjoy that perfect union with God in the perfect climate of the garden, all things held together, because some will refuse to concede that the originating point is outside the “comprehensible” laws of our world. But, we will celebrate this Advent the reality that Christ came to make possible again, and reveal to us that decay, entropy, sorrow, pain—disconnect—is not God’s creative intent. What is: Peace on earth—in space-time, all that lives and moves outside it, and everything in between. That is, Peace has come for all creation!

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace.

Some of you may know that I have a website and podcast and called Eirenicole. It is a conflation of my name with the word eirenic. To be eirenic is to be aimed at peace, oriented toward reconciliation. Often we limit the concept of peace to a sense of well-being or rest. But the word eirenic – the greek word that translates into the word we use for peace – indicates a more complex, robust meaning. Because, if I am truly at peace, I must be at peace with others – and if others are not at peace, mine is shallow, insipid, tenuous – not true peace. Eirenic – to be aimed at – an action; oriented toward reconciliation – adjusting our bearing, allowing for perspectives that initiate outside space-time.

There are a few ways we might create the conditions for this to happen for us.

  1. Sometime this week, with me, use the icon of José y Maria to be a prayer of peace, that I be made peace, to unlike Jerusalem at Jesus’ time, recognize the things that make for peace. Study the image as you pray.

2. This Advent: communal pondering prayer booklet. Several have signed up to use it as a guide for intentionally praying for a college student or someone else the Spirit prompts in your heart. The opening explains how you might use the guide.

You can also get the ebook version here. Or email me for a copy of the printed booklet: nicole@eirenicole.com

3. Let’s do this RethinkChurch word-a-day centering prompt. Remember to hashtag our church #DurandUMC and #RethinkChurch and the word for the day – so, today’s is #promise for the calendar we’ll follow.

The reason we are doing peace today instead of hope – what the majority of UMCs are doing is because next week Howie and I are doing a pulpit swap. I will be in Rockton and Howie will be here. He will preach Hope here, while I share Peace with the Rockton folks.

Consider how you might play the music of peace – consider from a perspective outside space-time. Who knows what the collision of peacemaking energy might create!

 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”(Jn14:27)

 

‘I love that word “absorption” because I think that’s my definition of happiness. I think all of us know we are happiest when we forget ourselves, when we forget the time, when we lose ourselves in a beautiful piece of music or a movie or a deep conversation with a friend or an intimate encounter with someone we love.’

~ Pico Iyer