19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
Peace. Something we have so little of, yet it’s the first word that the resurrected Christ says to His disciples.
Peace is a word used often, we even have a hand signal for it that people like to throw up in photos, yet it’s something that we experience seldomly.
The world is not at peace, and for the vast majority of history, never has been. Even in our individual lives, peace often alludes us. It gets lost in schedules and deadlines, arguments and tensions, stress and anxiety. “Peace be with you?” Who me? I’m too busy for peace. I know that the Passing of the Peace during church services is something that many of us miss dearly – I’m with you on that! It was a tough thing to cut when COVID first hit, yet one of the first things that came to mind since it is about fellowship, contact, closeness; all the things that COVID affected. This practice of passing the peace is deeply rooted in our Jewish heritage, into the culture Jesus was born and raised into. To this day, it is a regular practice to offer a word of “Shalom” or “Peace” to another when at synagogue or even just visiting someone’s home.
I love the practice, yet I fear we say “Peace” and forget about it just as quickly. The disciples were already terrified and hiding, then all the sudden their friend, someone they thought was dead, appeared in their midst, beyond locked doors. Of course peace is what Jesus wants on their hearts – it’s the furthest thing from what they are feeling! He even says it a second time, one time was not enough. I think we can learn from this. Even if it’s not with the specific “Passing of the Peace” moment in worship, I think we as followers of Christ should be truly offering peace to others and really meaning for that to be true. There’s no way to get to a world at peace without people at peace. And if we have to say it a second time so it sticks, then so be it.
Peace be with you.
Really, peace be with you.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What is one way you can offer peace to someone else this day? It doesn’t have to be with a word or a handshake, be creative and think about someone specific, and what you can offer that could really truly bring them a moment of peace.
Prayer: Holy God, you have extended a word of peace to us yet we live anything but peaceful lives. May we breathe in that wish for peace from you so that it may be more than something we hear and become something we experience. Amen.