Monday, 26 April 2010

The day the peace came - a story of resurrection

Our service this morning focused on peace, the promise and hope of peace. The WCC's general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit opened and closed the service and also preached a very personal and pastoral sermon on what real peace can mean.
His text was from John's gospel 20.19-23 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." and he told a story his mother had told the family time and again, the day the peace came to Norway, to Oslo.

One story my mother told again and again with a never ceasing joy in her eyes was the story of when the peace came. It was almost as if peace was a person: with a real presence, coming, being, breathing, staying.
Tveit went on to talk about how the rumour of the peace spread and then could be seen by three concrete proofs: people talking freely with one another on the streets, the Norwegian flag being flown even though it had been banned and the burning of the paper blackout curtains on the streets.
The feeling of what the coming of peace means, can only really be experienced by those who have been living with the fear of war, the burden of injustice, the tension of waiting for the day of peace and new life to come.
The more I see the realities of life for many people in this world, in different kinds of conflicts and injustice, the more the story of when the peace came becomes a story of hope and solidarity: listening to the longing for justice and peace; longing that something wonderful will happen, that it must happen …
At the end of the service just before the final blessing we shared the peace, having just sung "la paz del señor" we moved around sharing the peace with one another. It worked well and was quite moving. In an ecumenical setting we cannot share the eucharist but we can share the peace, it's another way of affirming communion and fellowship.
As the service ended I reflected on how it is narratives of meaning, stories of hope that tell us as much about the resurrection as simply retelling the gospel story. The stories of hope, peace and resurrection that we tell can go on being told after we ourselves are dead and no longer here to tell them. The narrative of hope continues, the story does not end. It's particularly true of stories our parents and grandparents tell us.