“Peace be with you.”
When Jesus appeared to his followers that first Easter evening and then the following Sunday again, the first thing he said was, “Peace be with you.” That phrase has kept coming back to me this week as I have faced various challenges. As I listen to the news, I certainly don’t hear words of peace. A friend had a long operation for a large heart aneurism near an aorta. I was anxious so I can only imagine how her husband felt having lost his first wife to illness. The author of this hymn wrote it after the death of his four children in a ship catastrophe crossing the Atlantic. The mother lived. The next born son died of scarlet fever! The man who wrote the music for the hymn went on a train ride with his wife. A bridge collapsed and he crawled back to die with his wife trapped in the wreckage. So much tragedy. And we have not mentioned Ukraine! What is this “peace” that Jesus breathed on his followers?
Peace cannot be the absence of conflict or tragedy or sorrow! Jesus said in John 14:27, “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.” If I had to rewrite Jesus’ words into words that would comfort me, I would write, “It’s OK. I’m right here with you. Take my hand. I’m with you and you don’t need to be afraid!” It’s OK, I’m with you. He doesn’t erase me by doing for me but he honors me by walking with me. What words would you like Jesus to say to you today? Blessings. It’s OK!