Sunday, December 05, 2021

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

by PASTOR LORI MORTON Contributing Writer
| November 19, 2021 1:00 AM

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Verse 15 of Colossians 3:12-17)

For many Christians, the church sets aside this coming Sunday as a day to celebrate Christ’s kingship and wonder about what it means to live according to Jesus’ reign. The scripture lessons force us to grapple with the tension between how human beings envision God’s reign and what Jesus reveals the kingdom of God is like.

We tend to gravitate toward passages from Daniel 7, where Almighty God, the Ancient One sits on his fiery throne in all God’s glory. God’s dominion established forever and ever with force and might, when necessary.

But, when the Gospels speak of Jesus as king, we find him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and later arrested, standing before Pilate. Pilate mocks Jesus, “So you are a king?” (John 18:37). Jesus, unwilling to fit our assumptions says, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over.”

The divide between these two understandings of how God works in the world is growing. Instead of the peace of Christ reigning in our hearts and becoming one body, we are quick to judge, fight, and become defensive. We are able to love those who think like we do, but trusting God enough to listen to our neighbor who differs from us; almost impossible. And, this community is suffering because of it.

Unlike most who move to Sandpoint, I hadn’t heard of the town before I was asked to interview for the call at First Lutheran Church. The weekend in February 2015, when I first visited, was socked in with fog and rain. No grand view of the Long Bridge, the lake or the mountains. All I knew about Sandpoint is that it was in North Idaho, and the reputation it had for being the home of racist extremists.

What I found was a community of diverse people, who enjoyed living together in the beauty and bounty of the area. Families who have lived here for generations, who worked hard logging, farming, building bridges, roads, and other infrastructure needed. Others moved here after being stationed at Farragut and surviving World War II. Some moved here in the ’60s, wanting to live off the land, others helped establish Schweitzer and shifted the area toward tourism. Conservatives, liberals, retirees and entrepreneurs, sprinkled with a few extremes, but predominantly faithful people seeking to serve their neighbor and care for the region they loved.

I will be leaving my call at First Lutheran Church and moving to support family in Colorado the first week of December. As I prepare to go, first, I want to say thank you for the ways you welcomed me as a neighbor, leader in the community, and friend. I am better for having lived here.

I also want you to know I will be praying for you. Praying the reign of Christ will dwell in your hearts and the Spirit will clothe you in compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and above all love. I pray you will rediscover how much you have in common and choose the kingdom of God, which is like a mustard seed or a baby born in an out-of-the-way place like Bethlehem. Easy to overlook these days, but still able to heal, reconcile, and show you a way through these uncertain times, together. Peace be with you until we meet again.