by Jonathan Kohlmeier
This world isn’t very peaceful is it? You are always hearing about hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, flooding and other natural disasters. The news is plagued with stories of tragic accidents, homicides, suicides, rape, or the constant slandering of public officials. Just viewing the world from the outside can show that it is not a peaceful place. In fact, all the evil may even lead one to become extremely depressed.
But it doesn’t stop there, does it? The violent attacks of sin, death and the devil don’t just stay “out there;” they hit close to home. You don’t do as well as you know you should in school. Your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you. Your parents go through an ugly divorce. A friend is killed in a car accident. You lose your own house to a natural disaster. You finally get up the courage to ask that special girl out – only to be turned down. You cry when you find out that the guy who you have liked for as long as you can remember changes his Facebook relationship status to “In a relationship.” That peace thing… it seems like a distant memory, if not some old fairy tale. How can there possibly be any peace in a world like this?
Depressed. That’s where it leaves us; in a dark hole that we have no hope of ever getting out of. Hopeless. Depressed with no reason left to go on.
“Now, wait a second Jon. That can’t be right. We’re still going on, sometimes even with a little happiness in our lives.”
Unfortunately, that IS all the world offers to you. That’s all you can achieve on your own. Left to yourself, you are just “going on,” but empty and void of peace.
But, there is hope! You are baptized!
Christ says in Matthew 11, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” His yoke is easy and His burden light because He bares them for you! He takes all the evil and sin of the world onto Himself and leaves you with rest and peace. And in John 14 his promise of peace is heard, “Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
The above passages are two of the recommended readings for the Order of Compline (LSB p.253), a beautiful prayer service for use at the close of the day. An overriding theme is peace, both throughout the night and at the end of our lives. In fact the first line is, “The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and peace at the last. Amen.” Psalm 4, which is historically chanted during Compline, ends by saying, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
This sure peace that we are given comes from the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was first given to you at your baptism! You are washed clean of all sin! The devil has no power over you! You are no longer of this world! You are of Christ! Therefore you have hope and you have that peace of God which passes all human understanding.
This sure peace is granted to you in Holy Absolution. Those sins that you have committed in thought, word and deed by no fault but your own have been pardoned, forgiven and absolved. The full price was paid by Christ’s Death.
This sure peace is granted to you at the Lord’s Supper. That peace enters your mouth in the Body and Blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and the wine. It is given to you for the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Not some forgiveness and everlasting life to come later; but In Christ you have forgiveness and everlasting life now!
Now violence, depression and death will always be a part of this world. But, you are baptized! You have hope and peace even amidst all the evil of this world. You can repeat another of the readings from Compline in full confidence. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
“Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping,
that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace. Amen.”