“Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'”
I continue to be both inspired and disheartened by Jesus’ post-resurrection greeting to his friends. I know we live in an increasingly violent world. And though my lifestyle is pretty steady (so far) with little fear of going hungry, losing my home, or being murdered, I know it happens and often to the unsuspecting. I struggle with the people serving in my government who seek personal gain at the expense of the well-being of the people they vow to serve. I struggle with the way the products I buy hurt others through their being manufactured, used, and thrown away—in reality, nothing gets thrown away, it merely gets put somewhere else where it leaches into the soil as it degrades and harms those in other parts of the world or sometime in the future. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus trying to experience the peace of Christ in the midst of so much pain and suffering in the world, let alone in my own city or neighborhood.
“Peace be with you,” almost sounds like a dare sometimes. A man I never knew just died. He was homeless. His name is Joe Garcia. The United Methodist Church in town has announced a memorial for him (they have an incredible ministry to and with the homeless of Tempe, Arizona) on Monday at 11:00 a.m. I want to go, and in fact have put it on my calendar. Joe was a child of God and it is amazing and wonderful to me that a community of faith wants to lift up his life as a gift from God. How many more like Joe die without anyone noticing or caring?
I sometimes imagine Jesus standing in the middle of all the violence, partisan politics, religious wars being waged, and neighborhood mistrust and saying, “Peace be with you” as he shows us the signs of his own pain and suffering.
My life is pretty good. I have a beautiful family (though I fear I haven’t been able to spend as much time with them lately as I would like), an incredible life-partner who loves me, cares about me, encourages me and even calls me back when I get lost, I have a good job with an incredible community of faith I am still getting to know, a home, food, and all the other basic necessities of life and so much more! I have a big screen TV, two cars, a college education (heck, a graduate degree!), and all the creature comforts that I have come to enjoy.
But the question that circles around in my head is: Do I have peace? I can say “sometimes”, but I wish I could say yes! Am I unfaithful because I haven’t found this peace of which Jesus speaks? What do I need to do to experience this peace more often and more consistently? The answers that come to my mind frighten me (think rich young ruler who Jesus told to go and sell everything and give it to the poor). Really? Is that what I’m being called to do? Will I then find freedom and peace?
I don’t just want it for me. I want it for my family and friends. I wish we could all discover or re-discover peace—the kind of peace I felt when I was young and didn’t worry about anything. As long as there are people who are homeless, starving, and suffering, I’m not sure I can ever experience that kind of peace again.
God, continue to call me, annoy me, nag me, and show me. Guide me on this journey, continue to speak your truth to me. Continue to transform me into the kind of person, husband, father, and friend you want me to be. Amen.