Oops, the video started part way through the sermon. We first listened to U2’s song “Peace on Earth” and then the sermon began with the following.
U2’s ‘Peace on Earth’PeaceOn Good Friday 1998, an agreement was reached in Ireland that brought hope for peace in that troubled country. But peace cannot be enforced, and in August an IRA bomb exploded in Omagh killing 29 plus unborn twins. U2 wrote the song ‘Peace on Earth’ in response.Jesus, in the song you wroteThe words are sticking in my throatPeace on earthHear it every Christmas timeBut hope and history won't rhymeSo what's it worth?This peace on earthJust as Zechariah, and we, cried out in praise earlier, here U2 cry out in anguish. They are not alone. As we encounter personally, or through other media, division and destruction, torment and terror, we too cry out in anguish, longing for God’s peace.Last week we encouraged those of you on the internet to consider the Advent series by Common Grace, a daily reflection that is emailed to you or available on their website. Let me share with you yesterday’s reflection which is by Rev Christine Redwood, Pastor at Seaforth Baptist Church.
Christine writes:I heard a song a few years ago which has stayed with me. I was in Indonesia and an Egyptian woman was singing. She was singing in Arabic, a language I don’t know, with no accompaniment. She kept repeating this one word: salaam, salaam. After she finished she translated: the peace of God to every race, the peace of God be in every place. I didn’t really need the translation, the music told me: this was a song filled with an ache for God to be at work.I feel this ache.She was teaching this song to remind us that she and other Christians in Egypt are singing to God in a land where they are a minority. There was first excitement when the Arab Spring happened. It seemed like injustice was finally going to be addressed, and then disappointment. Hers is a song calling on God to act.Maybe because there are so many songs everywhere, I can forget that some songs are more powerful than others. Powerful songs are formed out of the ache. Zechariah has been serving God for a long time. But there is this ache. Underneath all the songs he has sung over the years about God’s goodness, there is a creeping fear. What is God doing? The Romans have grown more powerful. His own home is quieter than what he wished for. The songs he sings starts to taste bitter on his tongue.And then an angel appears. Zechariah is frightened and loses his voice until a child is born. At the birth of the child, he is afraid no longer. Instead, he sings, the sound of his voice cracking, but getting stronger.One old man sings with confidence the people around him haven’t seen in a long time. He sings almost foolish words about God coming and setting his people free. It seems like nonsense, it’s just a baby. Yet his words resonate.Zechariah has gotten a glimpse of God’s plans. All the ancient promises he has sung about over the years are unfolding before his eyes. A saviour from the house of David is going to be raised up. This will be a person filled with God’s strength to accomplish the task at hand: rescue from enemies. God has not forgotten the covenant with Israel to bless all the families of the earth. The fear lifts as he sings.This is how I need to learn to sing. I sing in church. I hear old carols, year in and year out and I remember that God does act. Sometimes when I sing I feel the ache and fear. God, we are not there. Save us. Be at work in this place. But as I sing about God rescuing us from our enemies through mercy, I realise God is singing to me. God is calling me to act, too. He calls me to keep practicing the peace of God in this place. And now, the video
Then video for the rest of the sermon