Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

 

Sunday 26th May 2019
Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29    Apocalypse 21: 10-14, 22-23    John 14: 23-29

The Dove Of Peace.

Doves are about love and peace. Just read any modern poem or listen to the latest song. We talk about lovers who ‘bill and coo’ like doves, and we have become used to large gatherings at which doves are released as signs of peace and goodwill. Each of the four Gospel writers recounts that when Jesus was baptised the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove, attesting to the love that the Father had for his Son. And the poor people who listened to Jesus’s words would many times have bought doves to offer in the Temple as purification sacrifices to prepare themselves for worship.

It’s not surprising, then, that as Pentecost draws near the dove starts to reappear as a symbol in Christian thought. It recalls Jesus’s promise that his lasting gift would be that of peace. The peace that Jesus offers, the peace that the Holy Spirit brings, is not a static peace. It’s not supposed to be like the peaceful atmosphere of a country cemetery, the cosy sound of a grandfather clock ticking in a quiet room. It is an active peace found in the hearts of those who are inspired by the Spirit to be peacemakers.

So it’s quite possible to be at peace even in the midst of chaos. In fact, most of our lives are spent in the hustle and bustle of daily living. We are concerned about providing for our families, about our work, our children, our future. Christ’s peace is deeper than mere absence of conflict. He says that his peace is something that treaties and truces cannot match. It is something for which the world longs, but cannot give. And, as soon as he has promised this peace, he says “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”.

Christian peace is well-being. It is that unshakeable sense that we are known and loved by God, and that no matter what might befall us in life, we are held in God’s hand. We may undergo the same trials as our neighbours but we view them with a different perspective. They are relativised by the broader vision of faith. As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples he encouraged them with this gift of peace, which is nothing less than the very Spirit of God.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2019