I spend a lot of time thinking. Sometimes too much time thinking. I like to analyze and understand as much about the world and the people in it as I possibly can. Most of the time this is an asset. Being able to reason things through can often get me to a place that is more compassionate than judgmental or more patient than impulsive. Sometimes, though, I can think myself right out of something amazing.
This week I read the Luke text and started pondering what Jesus meant when he said, “Peace be with you.” Peace is one of those elusive qualities that slide away the more we try to contain or define it. Whatever we might think about what peace is or is not, it’s clear that it meant something to Jesus and those who heard it. It’s what he said when his disciples were terrified at seeing what they thought was a ghost. And what they heard and saw calmed them enough that they were able to listened to him.
In pondering this, I did what I often do. I looked things up and did some reading. It turns out that the word for peace in Greek can mean “wholeness” in addition to calm or a kind of farewell blessing. This blessing of wholeness appeals to me quite a bit.
In all the turmoil we face in the world, especially during this week of anniversaries – the one year anniversary of kidnapping of the girls by Boko Haram, the second of the Boston Marathon Bombing, the twentieth of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the sixty-second Holocaust Day of Remembrance, and the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination – a little sense of wholeness would go a long way. These anniversaries mark tragedies of the past and point toward the violence that flows rather freely through the world today. Where in the midst of this do we find peace? Who speaks words that calm and center us and remind us of our wholeness in the midst of fear or chaos?
And this is where I step out of my head and into the mystery. When I notice that spring is erupting all around me and the sun rises and sets every day, when I witness unexpected kindness, when I take time to simply breathe… I remember that the One who spoke those words of stillness to disciples on the beach is still speaking loud enough to be heard even amidst the din of daily living.
Peace, wholeness, is deeper than words, but it is not impossible. I’d like to think that if we all paid more attention to the words and spoke them more authentically, lived them more actively, some of the suffering and destruction would have less power.
RCL – Year B – Third Sunday of Easter – April 19, 2015
Acts 3: 12-19
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24: 36b-48