Double Portion of Peace
Rob Gieselmann, May 28, 2017
Elijah had a great and powerful spirit. His protégé, Elisha,
asked him to bequeath a double portion of that spirit to him.
Elijah promised him, yes, but only if you you actually see me
taken-up by God into heaven.
A double portion, and now, just as Jesus is about to be taken
up into heaven like Elijah, Jesus promises his own protégé’s
the same thing, a double portion.
The Holy Spirit. You will receive excessive power when the
Holy Spirit arrives. Perhaps you will make the connection:
Ascension, our namesake, is about nothing, if not Spiritual Power. Greater things than these shall you do, Jesus promised,
anticipating his departure and the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. And I wonder, What might these greater things be?
That you might do. Double portion, and if you could do
double of anything Jesus did, what might you pick?
Walk on water? I’d walk on water – it’s my favorite miracle.
Problem is, walking on wateris not needed. That’s what skipping stones are for, walking on water. What about
casting out demons? That’s what psychiatrists and
psychotropic drugs are for. What about healing people?
We have nurses, doctors and hospitals for that.
What, then, would you do with a double-portion
of Jesus’ spirit?
Many of you have met my puppy Bones. Graveyard Bones
– his full name. Bones suffers mightily from separation anxiety. Meaning, when I leave him, he cries –
When I run to the store, he cries. When I walk down the
hallway for a cup of coffee, he cries. The experts tell me
Bones cries because he thinks I’m never coming back.
But I always come back. I come back from the store with
groceries and dog biscuits, I come back down the hall
with a cup of coffee. I come back from church on Sunday mornings. In fact, every time I leave, I plan my homecoming.
I buy a return ticket on Travelocity. I tell whoever house-sits
what time of day I’ll be home. And isn’t Return usually embedded in leaving. The homecoming embedded
in the home-going. Only Bones does not appreciate this concept. Every time I leave, he assumes that’s it. It’s over.
Now, I’ve tried reasoning with Bones. Promising. But he won’t listen. At Jesus’ Ascension, when he left, the angel promised
Jesus would return. Jesus’ return is embedded in his going.
Sometimes in life, however, the promise of return is absent.
For example, in divorce, when one partner leaves another permanently. Or after graduation, when your child leaves home for college or her first job – Or, when the one you
love dies – the promise of return is not there. Which leads me to those girls killed in Manchester, this week. They left home
to attend the concert, and embedded in their concert-going was the promise of return. Only they didn’t. And here I think about my own daughter, Tilly – She attended the same Ariana Grande concert - only in Phoenix – earlier this spring. She returned home, but the Manchester girls did not. And I cannot even imagine …
Return, and you know, of course, that Jews still reserve a
seat at the Passover meal for Elijah’s return. Christians still look to the east for Jesus’ return.
For returning is embedded in the leaving – Mostly
I think about these things, but then my mind wanders to those
girls, and the elongated history of terrorism, and hatred, and
all that has been done in the name of God, the devil’s double-portion, if you will, but – and again I have to ask, what might it mean for Christians to receive a double-portion of Jesus’ spirit,
as related to return?
The Jesuit priest, Anthony de Mello, used to tell these two fanciful stories side by side: one about Buddha and the other about Jesus: A man once said to Buddha, You teach things that
are not in the Scriptures. To which Buddha answered, Then put them in there. The man protested - But sir, some of what you
teach contradicts the Scriptures? The Buddha replied, Then the Scriptures need amending. The Jesus story is similar:
At the United Nations, a proposal was made along these lines:
to delete and destroy every word in the canon of Scripture
for every religion - that leads to intolerance, or that in any way damages human dignity. Turns out, the author of the proposal was Jesus. When they found out Jesus had made the proposal,
reporters rushed to interview him. Jesus answered these
reporters the same way he answered the Pharisees:
Scripture is like Sabbath. Scripture is made for man, not man
for the Scripture. Indeed, there are portions of the Scripture of all religions that call for, or contemplate, violence, including Christian Scriptures. Yet Jesus is called, the Prince of Peace.
Which is it? Violence or peace? And the angels at
his birth announced, Peace on earth, goodwill towards all.
Peace, which leads me back to the point of beginning –
What double portion of Jesus’ spirit might the Christian ideally
choose to receive? If not double the same spirit of Jesus, who
in the face of violence perpetrated against himself, prayed these words: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Peace. Last week, someone asked me about world religions, and what common thread there might be among them, beyond violence. And this is what I believe: Simply – there are, among
the religions, those who get it – who connect in love to God,
and are willing to offer peace in love to others, at a cost to themselves. This is Memorial Day weekend, and tomorrow is Memorial Day – I can think of no better way to honor those
who have died for peace, than to ask God for a double-portion
of the grace of peace. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.