“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” ~ Jesus
For many generations, when parents would tuck their children in at night, they would have them say a little prayer. Many of you know this prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
That’s kind of a cheery way to send kids off to bed, isn’t it? There’s actually a second verse:
Our days begin with trouble here, our life is but a span.
And cruel death is always near, so frail a thing is man.
Night, night, honey—pleasant dreams.
People used to teach their kids to pray this, because people wanted their children to know that death is real, but it’s not the end.
Some time on Good Friday, while Jesus was being falsely accused, beaten and executed, the disciples ran for cover. Their Messiah had been murdered. Their hope had been nailed to a cross. They must have wondered, “Now, what do we do? How do we do life now that our hope has been executed?”
Jesus knew they needed a special visitation from Him. They needed to feel His calming presence and hear again His vision for the Kingdom in this world. Perhaps we do too.
Peace to you!
When Jesus says, “Peace be with you”, He isn’t just coining a new way to say ‘Hi.” The word “Peace” captures the ancient Jewish idea of Shalom. It is the idea of wholeness and flourishing. When Jesus materializes on this Easter morning in this upper room and says, “Peace” he means that because of his death and resurrection all is well and all shall be well. The day of cosmic flourishing has begun.
Shalom is when nothing is broken and no one is missing. ~ Barbara Skinner
Because of the cross and the empty tomb, people like you and I with our brokenness, failings, and sinfulness can see the wholeness of resurrected life begin in our souls.
There’s a line in a song Window to the Sky, by U2, the number one rock and roll group in the world, that says,
The rule has been disproved, the stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove, all debts are removed
Oh cant you see what love has done?
When Jesus stood before these frightened disciples he was sending a meta narrative to them and to us that says, “The grave that looms in your future that looked so much like a dead-end, is nothing but a groove, all debts are removed, Oh can’t you see what love has done?
We ought to be the kind of community that billionaires, and broke migrant workers would feel completely accepted. We ought to be the kind of community where people who are lily white could worship alongside a person of color. We ought to be the kind of community where liberals and conservatives could worship together. We ought to be the kind of community that would open wide her arms to receive Barak Obama and Donald Trump to join us in singing our favorite hymns in our churches.
If there were ever time for grace to dominate the discourse and radical acceptance to be the hallmark of the people of God it is this time. We will be that kind of place, so help us God.
That can only happen in the life of people who center their 24/7 lives around the Jesus who went to the cross and came out of the tomb.
The question I have is what would we have to do, what steps would you and I have to take in our own hearts, to be the kind of faith family that people of our community, regardless of their political, social, or sexual background, would feel comfortable coming here and sing praises to our risen King?
As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
As Jesus washed dirty feet, embraced the social outcasts, and touched the lepers as the hands of the loving heavenly father in person, we want to be that for our world as well.
How will a family that doesn’t have enough food to eat ever come to know the one who came to call himself “the Bread of Life?” How will the children who live in Johnson Village trailer park, who feel mostly forgotten about, ever come to know about a God who cares about them? How will a woman who walks mile after mile to get dirty water out of a shallow well in the Sudan, ever learn about the one who came to call himself, “the Living Water”?
How will an undocumented immigrant living in the San Luis Valley, who hasn’t come this country to rape, sell drugs, or steal jobs, but is too scared to drive to Church for fear of being pulled over and deported, ever hear of from the God who said, “The foreigner residing among you must be…loved [as you love] yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Lev. 19:34) if we don’t listen to them and show them that they have nothing to fear from a white man?
These precious people need more than a prayer, a tract, or a wall. They need someone to show them the love of God.
We want to be the kind of people who will show this world that the God we say we worship loves this world and is determined to not leave it abandoned. And the resurrection of Jesus is God’s first installment to not only take care of our personal sins, but to begin the healing process that rights all of those wrongs.
One of my favorite poets is the 19th century poet GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS. He lived a very difficult life and yet was able to distill the presence of God in language like few others in his generation. He has a poem called, As Kingfishers Catch Fire that I want to share with you a few lines:
…the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
…through the features of men’s faces.
May Jesus be lovely in your faces and may Jesus play in ten thousand places—through you.