4-18-17 - Peace Be With You

Time is very elastic in our gospels. Each one spends about half its pages on the three years of Jesus’ ministry – his teaching, miracles, and exploits. When we get to his final days, we slow down considerably, spending several chapters on the events of his suffering and death. And then we get to the Sunday of the Resurrection – and we really slow down, with whole chapters devoted to just that one day, that first day of the week, that First Day of our new lives.

The church will spend the next several Sundays exploring that one day, a day that began in the dark, when some women hurried to the tomb to do for Jesus’ body what Sabbath laws forbade them to do on Friday afternoon. The day went from sad to joyful and bizarre as they were met at the now-empty tomb by an angel (or two) announcing that Jesus is risen. And then there he is, right there on the road in front of them, saying, “Tell my brothers to meet me in Galilee,” a message which has always struck me as laughably prosaic from someone who’s just been to hell and back…

In church, we don’t get to linger on that Easter morning because by the next Sunday we’ve jumped to that evening. We find that Jesus’ disciples have not gone to Galilee as instructed, but are holed up in a room – presumably the one where they’d celebrated the Passover a few nights earlier, a lifetime ago:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (This week's gospel is here.)

“Peace be with you.” I can imagine many emotions those men and women probably experienced that day, and none of them involve peace. Here they are, trying to process the cosmic developments they’ve witnessed, hiding in a locked room because the threat to their lives has just intensified. And here is Jesus, just suddenly there, despite the doors shut and locked? “Peace be with you?”

But Jesus doesn’t only say, “Peace.” He can impart peace. This is the man whom they saw still a violent storm and calm a violent man. This is the friend they watched endure torture and ridicule and betrayal and a horrible death. When Jesus says, “Peace,” he carries the power to generate it. It worked on them – soon they are rejoicing.

How would you feel if you were one of those followers?
Today you might read through this passage and play it out in your imagination, with you at that table… what do you feel? What do you want to ask Jesus? What does he answer?
Do you feel his presence with you, both “there” in the scene in your imagination, and “here,” with you as you pray? Might you invite his peace to spread through you?
What happens when you pray that way?

I believe Jesus invites us to rejoice, no matter what’s going on in our lives. He speaks peace to us too, and as we let his presence live in us, we begin to feel that peace spreading through our minds and our bodies and our spirits. That is one way that Easter becomes real for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment