Last week I was very thankful to attend and be part of the National Day of Prayer event here in our community. Every year, Clara Washington does a fantastic job of organizing and bringing people together to represent all of our community for the purpose of praying together. This is one of the most unifying things our community does each year!
More than just the unity we share as believers, the National Day of Prayer also reminds me of the peace the Lord has given His Church. Our world is embroiled in many ways with struggles of racism, poverty, greed, war, a global pandemic and so much more, but there are times when we see and experience what peace looks like in our local community in real ways.
The National Day of Prayer in Fort Payne is always like that to me. We see people from all walks of life simply praying together, our elected officials being lifted up in prayer, people praying in different languages, and music that fills the air with praises to God. All of this ushers in a sense of God’s peace amongst us.
It reminds me of how the Lord Jesus came among His disciples in the Upper Room on that first Easter Sunday… On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”(John 20:19)
Jesus’ first words to the fear-filled and bewildered disciples three days after the crucifixion was “peace”! PEACE! Is that same peace not still spoken over us as disciples of Jesus today? Even in the chaos of our lives, can we can be at peace with the Lord? We need that word of peace, and I believe that peace is still with us.
The Bible talks about peace in the sense that there will be a day when peace will overwhelm all of creation and the lion will lie down with the lamb. We look forward to that day of peace! But until then we are spurred on by events like the National Day of Prayer and other ways we see peace being built here in our local communities.
We as the Church of Jesus Christ have been given peace, and every now and then we see and experience that in a very real way. When we experience these things in tangible ways in the here, and now, it just makes it even more sure that God will bring an even greater peace!
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
– Ian Conerly is the pastor at New Oregon United Methodist Church in Fort Payne.