Summary: God is our peace in the middle of disaster, flood, loss of life, and every day. We can learn to live in peace with ourselves and others no matter what struggles and difficulties we face.
“How to Be a Peacemaker”
“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” Ephesians 2:14 KJV
Intro: This week has been bitter sweet with the flood disaster in Flat Gap, Kentucky just a few miles from Paintsville First United Methodist, that took the lives of four people. It destroyed over eighty homes. There was major flood damage to another eighty-four homes and significant flooding to over two hundred and seventy-four additional homes. Our thought and prayers go out to this whole community. On the one hand the loss of life and the destruction of personal property by the flood is unbelievable. I have cried with you and cried with this community. That is the “sometimes harsh and bitter reality of nature” and part of the journey in life itself. On the other hand I have seen the huge hearts in this church and community. People working to prepare and deliver food. People donating generously to help.
I cannot begin to name names and express appreciation to every individual. But just a couple of things that I want to mention so that all of us know how important the work you are doing is. When people are in shock their attention becomes very narrow. They have tunnel vision. They can think only about one thing and that thing may be way outside of what is actually happening. I spoke an EMS first responder who said when he arrive on the scene he saw a lady who kept saying, "I can’t find my car keys. I can’t find my car keys." Her car was wrapped around a tree about 500 yards away. So was her house and everything else she owned. But all she could think about was trying to find her car keys.
Another story that stands out that I think describes the type of crisis relief this church has done was: A man who had lost everything. He needed a size 54 pants. You can’t find that size pants at Wal-Mart. So, a couple in the church volunteered to locate and drive out of town to make sure this guy had a couple of changes of clothing.
Then the food army came in and that is what it was. This church became an army of angles, cooking food and delivering hot meals to hundreds of people without electricity, water, or roof over their heads. It reminds me of the song Chris Tomlin sings: “The God of Angel Armies” I know who goes before me. I know who stands beside me. The God of angel armies. Is always by my side. The one who reigns forever. He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies. Is always by my side. Whom shall I fear. Whom shall I fear.
The church office has received phone calls from West Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio, all around Kentucky that said they saw the “Paintsville First UMC Silver Bullet Bus” delivering food and water and supplies. You did his before the Red Cross or any other relief team was able to do that. (go ahead and give yourself hand). Your earts are huge. Your generous giving to mission and ministry work of this church isn’t just when there is a disaster but ongoing. The Kentucky Annual Conference Disaster Relief Coordinator is already on sight and help with recovery plans.
“People who have been helped want to help ten times as much to give back for the blessings they received.” You have not lived today until you have done something for someone that cannot pay you back. That is the sweet part of this week.
In this world there will always be wars and disasters and fires and floods, droughts and tornadoes. And in life there are unexpected losses. Unforeseeable tragedies, injustice and inequalities. Suffering happens. Sometimes it is explainable. Most often it is indescribable. The real question of faith is not “Why do people suffer?” The real question is “How do we handle suffering?” How do we respond to the hurting, the broken? How do we respond to the least, the last, and the lost? That is what this little verse in Ephesians 2:14 from the Apostle Paul to the people at Ephesus is all about. It was written to encourage Christians to hang on when life is hard and the pain is real. Our peace is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I. Find inward peace with self.
“He made peace by the blood of the cross” (Colossians 1:20).
When I am struggling. When I am hurting. When I and feeling the pain. When I and worrying about tomorrow and fearful about what may come next. I read this verse of scripture from Colossians and remember that Jesus was holding the whole world in his hands when he was on the cross. That included everybody here, in His hands. That is faith and that is why even in pain and sorrow we have great courage and strength. Our faith is grounded in the blood of the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. When you want to find inward peace with self. Just come to Jesus, Just kneel at the cross.