In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Peace be with you. God’s peace. Peace. Peace of the Lord.
We say it — we share it every Sunday; but what does God’s peace really mean? What does it look like, sound like, taste like, feel like? Are these words we say to one another just wishful thinking? Or is God’s peace something else entirely?
I begin there on this Trinity Sunday because we worship a God who is peace at his very core. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons who nevertheless reside in perfect harmony with one another, resting in the beauty and holiness of their shared being, always one and always three. It’s a doctrine that at once “bewilders the intellect and comforts the soul.”
And I think that’s because we live in a world where true peace, definitive peace, doesn't seem to exist. Even in the closest of families or among the best of friends, friction arises because someone left socks on the floor or had a sudden, unexplained change in political opinion. We all want peace, we all want there to be perfect understanding and perfect communion, but the world in which we live says that is impossible. There is simply too much hate, too much violence, too much selfishness for anyone to truly rest.
But according to St Paul in our epistle passage today, that’s not the case at all. “Therefore,” he writes, “since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have peace with God. We have peace with God now. This is not just wishful thinking, not just something we’ll enjoy one day. It’s ours. It is in our midst now.
To understand the magnitude of Paul’s assertion, to actually believe and to feel that this peace we’re given is a now-thing and not just a later-thing, we have to back up a little bit. See, the word “therefore” means that we’re stepping into the middle of an argument. Paul has spent the first part of his letter to the Roman church explaining that everyone has fallen short of the glory of God. To put it simply: Apart from Christ, we are all God’s enemies. No matter our personal piety, our appearance, or our power, we are all unrighteous, permanently out-of-sync with the one who made us. And that affects everything else. If we were to flip back to the first chapters of Genesis, or even if we were just to reflect on history for a few moments, we would find that the vertical fracture between humankind and God leads to ruptures in every other relationship we have. Humankind is a messy, broken, sometimes well-intentioned but more often cruel race. In a world apart from God, we do not have peace; and yet, thanks be to God, his faithfulness infinitely exceeds our faithlessness, and his generosity, his willingness to share the goodness and joy and peace and love that is his knows no bounds.
And so it is that God in his mercy sent his only Son, so that we might be reconciled with the one who made us. We have peace with God because he decided that no matter our mistakes, no matter our rebelliousness, he would free us from slavery to sin and bring us home. And so God himself acted. Jesus emptied himself, living and dying as one of us, so that the rift between us and our Creator might be healed – and more. His work, the grace that Christ extends, is a gift that reveals new treasures with every passing day because it is the gift of God’s own self to us. As we celebrated last Sunday, we live and move and breathe in the company of the Holy Spirit. He is with us every day and every moment, speaking the words of the Father and the Son, guiding us in the way of all truth.
Through the over-abundant, ever-flowing love of the Trinity, we are swept up into the life of the creator God and are made citizens of a realm ruled by the One who is perfect peace and love and justice and mercy, Through the over-abundant, ever-flowing love of the Trinity, we are made one people, where every tribe and every nation comes together to worship the Lamb.
This is a reality that is fixed on an unshakeable cornerstone, a reality that shines brightly despite the pernicious and persistent evil in this world. And that’s because it’s peace that doesn’t end when we snap at our friends or family. It’s peace that doesn’t rely on political correctness or adhering to an unspoken social contract. It’s peace that is God’s, that comes from his very nature. When we say, “The Peace of the Lord be Always With You,” we confess that that peace is present now. In our midst. We confess that we are a community bound by love of the Triune God that somehow manifests that peace — the peace of the world to come — in the world that is. And we see that happening when people of every class and color break bread together. We see that when the rich and the poor, the young and the old, confess that Christ is our center, that he reigns, and that we are citizens of his kingdom.
We worship a God who has adopted us as his children, that we might share in the life and peace that constantly makes room for more. And so I say again, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” AMEN.