Peace, perfect peace

Peace, perfect peace. A Hymn of hope and comfort

As our world continues along the path of darkness and despair, we all need to spend more time and energy in working for peace.

Christians are now meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ on the Cross in what we call Holy Week.. Muslims are half way through their holy season of Ramadan.
Jews begin their season of Passover on April 15th.
At the heart of all three Abrahamic religions is Salvation and peace; deliverance and love; penitence and renewal.
Never more than now are we called to grow peace in our hearts because that is always where conflict begins. The International prayer of Peace ends with that thought.

Lead us from Death to Life
from Falsehood to Truth
Lead us from Despair to Hope
from Fear to Trust
Lead us from Hate to Love
from War to Peace
Let Peace fill our Hearts
our World, our Universe
Peace Peace Peace

For us Christians, as we go through Holy Week, we are reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples before his arrest which led to his crucifixion. After speaking to them (and therefore us) of love in which we are held by God. This love is linked with living our lives in peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

The other day I was reminded of a beautiful hymn written by Edward Bickersteth who was both a priest and a poet. After a ministry as a parish priest he became Bishop of Exeter. He wrote this hymn in 1875.
It was in response to a sermon he heard whilst on holiday in Harrogate. The text of this sermon was “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee,”
The hymn Bickersteth wrote contains lines with four Question Marks followed by four answers.
The final stanza where everything is drawn up into the perfect peace which Jesus gives us in the gift of heaven.

It is best sung to Orlando Gibbons tune, Song 46

Though often used as a personal hymn of comfort it also has a universal challenge. The hope and comfort it speaks of has its own Question Mark to us all. During this special week it can be a meditation on the peace which we all must work for in ourselves and equally importantly in our world.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call to heaven’s perfect peace.

[Mr G]

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