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, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:27
Over the years, I have watched as we share the peace at church for many to want to hide or hold their hands in their pockets. It is not an uncommon feeling. Those months when viruses are at their peak or time is short and we fear the sharing will not be done, for some there is relief. Maybe, even gladness.
Yet, if at all possible we share the peace.
On any given Sunday worship service the pastor stands in front of the congregation, holding her hands outward and says “The Peace of Christ be with you all”. In response, the congregation offers that peace to the leader, saying as they hold their hands out, “The peace of Christ be with you, also.”
Then, the presider offers this gift to be given to one another. The intent is beautiful. “Peace of Christ be with you.”
What is that peace that we share? What is the peace we all long for?
Peace in the world with absence of war, conflict, terrorism, hate, injustice, pain, suffering…
Peace in our communities with absence of homelessness, child abuse, addiction, disease….
Peace in our lives with absence of obsessions, broken families and relationships, verbal abuse, running ragged, never ending demands….
What is this peace we share? What is the peace we all long for?
Jesus says he offers peace that is not of this world. What if that is the peace we long for and hope for?
The baby born in a stable because there was no other place to come into the world, came in to show what peace is. The coming of the infant Jesus stunned shepherds and Wisemen. They knew what this child would bring.
Jesus then grew up to bless those who were in pain, those who were apart, and those wrestling with life on life’s terms. Those who needed him. He grew up to bless us all.
At the time of Jesus death, he gave his disciples the blessing of what peace brings, God’s presence. Jesus promising a different kind of peace didn’t change the fact he would die. And, rise again. That the disciples would still have to grieve and figure out how to do ministry without him on earth.
It doesn’t take away what we have day in and day out. We still live in this broken beautiful world.
What Jesus gives is the understanding that peace comes in knowing God is present with you. Come what may, it gives peace. Peace that passes all understanding. Unlike anything we can imagine.
When we shake hands on Sunday morning we are sharing the promise. “Peace be with you” ….”And, also with you.” You are not alone. God is with you. God is with us. Emmanuel.