Not Peace, but a Sword
34 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Devotion by Anne Mooney
This was a hard scripture for me. I wrestled with it and with God for two weeks. Mostly I wrestled with it because I also had to talk about it for Children’s Time. Ew! Talk about families fighting amongst themselves for Children’s Time. I’d rather not tackle that, let’s find something kinder! And on top of that was the UCC curriculum guidance that this is also about Solidarity. What? I do NOT get that. So, I went to work and I also had to let God do some work on me. Guess what? God did not let me down. Here is what I learned.
First of all, I had to have some context. I discovered that Jesus was giving orders to his disciples to go out and teach the Hebrew people and to heal and cast out evil spirits like Jesus himself had been doing. Jesus was wise enough to warn the disciples that the job would not be easy. It was likely to be controversial.
Second, the scripture for this devotion is part of Jesus’ warning. But it goes farther than just a mere warning because Jesus shares that he actually came to be with us on Earth to BE controversial. We like to talk about Peace on Earth, as yes, that is what we hope God’s Kindom is like, but before we create God’s Kindom for everyone, we are going to make some people mad. And let’s face it, the marginalized folks who have been overlooked are already mad. There are a lot of sides here.
Third, yes Jesus has asked his disciples, and Jesus asks us to do some hard things. We are bound to face some conflict in the process, but remember, Jesus went there first and the Holy Spirit goes with us now. We are all loved in life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, in anger and in peace. Let’s get out there and do the hard stuff.
Dear Creator, Open our Eyes, Ears, Hands and Hearts so that we can hear the cries of those who suffer among us. Help us stand with them in solidarity so they know they are not alone. Help us in the fight against injustice, even when we feel afraid or alienated from those we love. Amen