A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:39-45
Today’s focus: peace…or rather, Shalom, the Hebrew word for/about peace. This peace goes beyond our earthly understanding of peace. It is not niceness or political correctness. It is not the absence of armed conflict or a peaceful co-existence. Shalom goes beyond serenity. It speaks to wholeness, completeness and fulfillment. The presence is ever-expanding. And to pursue it would be to pursue fulfillment. And purpose began at creation.
We were created to partner with God to bring Shalom into the world. We were created to take what was created good and make it better; to bring it to completion. Then came sin and this became impossible.
With sin, came chaos. No fulfillment. A constant yearning.
Jesus came to bring Shalom – to bring fulfillment. That’s why the angels sang “peace on earth.”
When we look at the life of Christ, we see anything but peace. God chose to become less; came in the form of a baby, was born in a stable and laid in a manger because there was nowhere else to put him. While He lived, he was oppressed and afflicted. Towards the end, he endured mocking, brutality, and the cross.
Does that sound peaceful?
Attending Church of the Open Door, this morning’s speaker, David Johnson, then proceeded to ask three questions.
1: Have you ever been a part of a miracle?
At this, we look to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a disturbed teenager who had just seen an angel and heard of the impossible. She couldn’t bring this disturbing news to her parents – they wouldn’t understand (I was there once too…we all were teenagers once). She chose then to spend time with her cousin Elizabeth; who was also pregnant…as the angel had told her. Keep in mind that angels do not have a natural calming affect…I know I would probably freak if I were to ever see one while walking this terrestrial planet. Wouldn’t you?
We, too, should understand that when God calls us to something and that although it may be exciting, it is always disturbing, will probably be painful, definitely questionable and unsettling.
Johnson then pointed to the by-product of Mary’s arrival: what happened to Elizabeth when she came. The baby leapt within her womb and, due to the Holy Spirit’s coming upon her, she knew the gift that Mary carried and, in turn, calmed Mary’s fears. Elizabeth brought Shalom into the picture.
At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
When God’s life is born within each of us, we have the capability of feeling Him move. God is not dormant – He is fully alive – and He will begin to grow within us, stretch us, scar us, scare us and that growth may even hurt. We need to remember that is all for His glory. He is preparing us to do a great work for Him and preparing us for His kingdom.
2: If you were called to play a part in His story, would you say yes?
3: What if you knew (fully believed) that all of the things in your life that have ever grown/scarred/scared/disturbed you were actually moving you towards Shalom? Would that give you peace? What if you knew that you were part of something…if you had a place in bringing and restoring Shalom…would that give you Shalom?
Johnson recalled last week’s message about Joseph. He was disappointed in the fact that Mary was with child before they were even married. He had considered leaving her…then…then God revealed to him the plan. And in accepting that plan and saying yes, Joseph was given the Shalom he needed to go through it.
Mary, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. She saw an angel – that disturbed her. She then went to Elizabeth; a woman who was older; a woman who had lived; a woman who knew loss, who knew what it was to be barren. Elizabeth was able to stand firm and be the confident spirit (through her wisdom) that Mary needed:
“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Mary was blessed because she had said YES even when she didn’t fully understand. All of that administers peace and it can stretch from one generation to the next.
I couldn’t help but ask those questions of my own life and point them towards The Vine. Every step towards this moment has been a part of a miracle. Each person on the Vine team has been asked to be a part of God’s story. We all have. And that third question? I couldn’t help but think about my current situation:
What if you knew (fully believed) that all of the things in your life that have ever grown/scarred/scared/disturbed you were actually moving you towards Shalom? Would that give you peace? What if you knew that you were part of something…if you had a place in bringing and restoring Shalom…would that give you Shalom?
I fully believe that everything that has led to this moment, here and now, has been moving us towards bringing that Shalom to Minneapolis. There are thousands of people in that area that do not know God. Some may have not even heard of Him or what He has to offer. I’ve been given peace in spite of not knowing what steps are coming next. I’ve been given peace even though I do not know what the outcome will be.