Pastor Pastor Bill Schnackenberg, Centralia United Methodist Church
What a season this has been! Between the weather and school activities, things should begin to slow down a bit, shouldn’t they?
But now that school is finally out it’s the time for family vacations, summer camps, sports camps, weekends at the lake – how is that really slowing down? When are we going to have some time to reflect and plan, to retreat and recreate our energy and our vision for next year and beyond? When are we going to experience God’s peace in our lives? It is important to make time for God’s peace in this fast-paced environment.
Jesus offers us peace. Actually he bestowed the gift of God’s peace upon his followers. But even as his earliest followers found out, they had to practice making the time to truly experience that peace. The early believers prayed regularly. They carved time out of each day specifically for prayer. That was part of being in community with other believers. And then they went about their business for the day. Jesus showed them how to do that.
Did you notice that last paragraph? The people Jesus is talking to? It’s not the person Jesus is talking to – it’s a group of folks together. You see, we’re in this world together. Jesus gathered people together. He sent his disciples out in pairs. He worshiped in communion with others. Dr. Paul Tournier, a Swiss Christian Psychiatrist, has said, “There are two things we cannot do alone. One is to be married; the other is to be a Christian.” God didn’t create solitary Christians. God wants us in community.
That’s where we find peace, the peace of God most easily. In a community of fellow believers. Jesus’ followers prayed together, ate together, worked together, and/or talked together. Even on mission trips, scripture reports show at least two going out. That’s where we find the Spirit of God working at optimum capacity. That’s where we find our courage and strength, the faith to face the fears that attempt to overtake us. Together in fellowship. Together in prayer.
Even when hiking in the wilderness and forests, the rangers advise that individuals at least pair up for safety. And when it comes to renewing ourselves with the peace of God, the most fruitful place is with other believers. And when we go out to serve others in the name of Christ, the most fruitful work is done together.
I’ll share a secret with you that’s taken me many years to discover. We will never have the time to do those things that bring us peace unless we MAKE the time. It’s something that has to be as important to us as all the other activities on our schedules. And even then, from my own experience, it’s easy to fall back into the rat race.
So I encourage you to examine your schedules and your times for recreation. If you’re also looking for God’s peace in this hectic and chaotic world, find a place to pray or work or eat or talk with other believers – perhaps even a church. I can guarantee one thing – God will find a way to bless you through the Spirit as you gather together in the name of Jesus. So take time to renew yourselves. It will be worth it.
Blessings to all of you this summer.