On July 7 this year, Ringo Starr hosted an online music show to highlight his 80th birthday.
(I’ll give my fellow baby-boomers a few seconds here to get over the fact that one of the Beatles has turned 80. OK, while we’re at it, know that Paul McCartney is 78, John Lennon would have been 79 and the baby, George Harrison, would have been 77 this year.)
Paul and Ringo, the surviving Fab Two, still are going strong as solo performers, and during Ringo’s birthday celebration, he flashed the "Peace" hand sign and ended the show saying his now-trademark, "Peace and Love."
I couldn’t help thinking of Ringo when I heard the July 19 sermon by one of our pastors. Discussing Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit to believers, he quoted John 14:27: "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."
The pastor continued, and I’m paraphrasing, that in our chaotic 2020 world and throughout history, people have sought peace but often don’t look for it in the person who IS peace: Jesus Christ, who is God and the Prince of Peace.
My thoughts jumped to the Bible’s statements that not only is God peace, but God is love, too. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (I John 4:8) "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (I John 4:16)
Peace and love. Those are wonderful concepts to strive for. And I wonder exactly what Ringo means when he repeats the words and asks people to say them at noon every year on his birthday.
I like Ringo. He seems to have been the Beatle who was most agreeable most of the time when the others were squabbling. And I’m sure he sincerely wants peace in the world and wants love to spread.
I’m not sure, though, whether true peace and love can take root without the spirit who created them in the first place.
Our pastor pointed out that often, people try to maneuver their surroundings to produce peace in society, hoping that in turn, individuals will have peace within. He said that’s backward. The biblical model is that peace within a person will radiate out to create peace in that person’s environment. And that idea involves the Holy Spirit.
The pastor said that to have peace within, a person has to invite Jesus into his or her heart, which is the equivalent of having the Holy Spirit inside. That Christian definition of peace is appealing, especially this year when it seems no one can gain control of the division and hatred that spiral around us.
I would be stretching it to say the Beatles’ music is Christian, but much of it expresses a yearning for something better – a yearning that writer C.S. Lewis believed was hard-wired into all of us by the creator of the universe. Lewis said the only true attainment of our deepest desires, of which peace and love are among the most important, is in another world, the one where Jesus promised he has prepared a place for us.
George Harrison was influenced by Eastern religions, but his song, "Within You Without You" reflects what our pastor said about the Holy Spirit. His "My Sweet Lord" has been used in Christian contexts. Paul McCartney sang for "Peace in the Neighborhood." Some of the Beatles’ most familiar music prods us toward compassion. "The love you take is equal to the love you make" is another way of stating the Golden Rule.
Another pastor, my cousin, says "All You Need Is Love" pretty well sums up his preaching during the past 25 years.
I haven’t heard Ringo expand on the meaning of his "Peace and Love" mantra, but I appreciate his intentions. And I don’t know what would happen to our world if Christians everywhere let peace surge from their hearts.
But let’s give it a chance.
Mike Haynes taught journalism at Amarillo College from 1991 to 2016. He can be reached at email@example.com. Go to www.haynescolumn.blogspot.com for other recent columns.