Did you notice which of our word and picture cards was held up the most times during the reading? It was “peace”. Peace is a very important concept in the Bible and in the church. In a few minutes we will exchange a sign of peace, saying to each other “peace be with you”. But what kind of peace is this? It’s not the simple kind, the mere absence of noise, distraction or conflict. It is the deep peace, the “peace which passes all understanding”, which can only be found by drawing near to Jesus.
When we come close to Jesus, something very special happens. I’m going to need some volunteers to demonstrate. [give each person a length of string, all tied to a central cross] Now I want you to all go as far as your string will allow you. See how far they are from the cross now, and how far they are from each other. Now, I’d like you all to come closer to the cross. Look, they’re all closer to the cross now, but what has happened to the distance between them? They’re closer to each other too.
This is what happens in communion. Jesus invites each of us to his table. And when we draw near to him, we draw nearer to each other too. Our communion with Christ puts us in communion with our brothers and sisters here in this church, around the world, and throughout the ages. We are in communion with all who are called to the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, to share in and become part of the body of Christ.
Through Christ’s peace, which is so much greater than we can understand, we are drawn into communion with those we have never met, and those with whom we profoundly disagree, no less than we are with those we love. And that shared communion has to change the way we are with one another, as we grow to reflect the love Jesus shows us in the sacrament and on the cross. We are changed by our encounter with the living, risen Christ in the bread and wine.
In our gospel reading we heard about those who were healed just by coming near enough to Jesus to touch his cloak. This is the power of Christ. Jesus drew near to people, especially those people nobody else wanted to be with. And when Jesus drew near to people they were changed. They could see things they could never see before, they could do things they could never do before. They were healed.
And we too are invited to be changed, transformed and made whole by meeting Jesus in his body and blood at communion. [use picture cards from reading] Our task, our calling, is to fix our eyes on the cross and on the bread and wine, and draw near with faith. When we do we are healed, the divisions between us are healed. The walls we put up between ourselves and the ‘other’ are torn down, and we the living stones rebuilt into a temple, Christ’s church, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, built on Christ the cornerstone. And then, only then, can we truly know the peace of God.
For our prayers today, we are going to use lego to build a church, to represent the way we are built together in unity into the one church of God. Please come forward and choose a brick to represent yourself, and also bricks to represent those for whom you pray, and build them in to the church.