“Peace Be with You”
Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; April 19, 2020
2nd Sunday of Easter
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!
The Easter cry is not for Resurrection Sunday alone. The days between Easter and Pentecost invite us to focus on the resurrection and all that God accomplishes through Christ’s re-birth. But when we are sequestered in our homes with our doors safely shut, does it feel like anything extraordinary has happened? We are facing a time in the history of the world that we have never seen. Instead of gathering in our sanctuary to pray, to sing, to worship, to give thanks—we gather virtually by way of Facebook Live. Perhaps singing hallelujah is a little more difficult this week. Maybe our nerves are growing thin because of financial worries or because of becoming a homeschool teacher—overnight. Perhaps we miss doing simple things like going to the grocery store or hair salon or taking a much-needed vacation. If any of this speaks to your experience, the story of Thomas may be just the medicine the doctor ordered.
Jesus’ followers are gathered behind locked doors. No wonder. There is real danger out there. Those who killed Jesus may want to finish the job by eliminating his disciples or, at the very least, haul them in for questioning over the sudden disappearance of Jesus’ body. Yes, there is real danger out there and there is good reason to lock the doors. But locked doors or not, Jesus appears, and twice he says, “Peace be with you.” Thomas is absent and when the disciples tell him they have seen the Lord, he refuses to believe. But is it any wonder? I mean, in the gospel accounts, there is not one record of anyone seeing Jesus and responding with, “I knew you would be back! What took you so long?” No one anticipates Jesus’ return and when he shows up, everyone doubts. Everyone.[i]
A week goes by before Jesus again appears behind closed doors, but this time Thomas is with the other disciples. We might expect Jesus to scold him for his lack of faith. But instead, Jesus offers peace, “Peace be with you,” and again Jesus offers what is most needed—himself.
The peace of Christ—how we long for it in our lives—especially when we are reeling from the effects of a global pandemic. But let’s be honest. When was the last time we felt at peace? When was the last time we slept serenely through the night without waking up to some thought of the safety of our friends, family, or neighbors? When have we passed a day without glancing at the news with dread in our hearts? How then, can we be at peace? It might help us to consider this: peace is not just a lack of conflict or a lack of trouble. True peace is built on trust in something (Someone) greater than ourselves. True peace is a gift from Christ our Savior, and he is eager to offer it—when our faith is strong and when our faith is weak.
The following poem offers an interesting perspective for us today. Written by Judyth Hill, it is entitled, “Wage Peace.”
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if [peace] has already arrived.
When the disciples see Jesus alive, they rejoice, they celebrate. Wonder of wonders, God is active in the world in ways they never imagined. Now Jesus is back—just as he promised. Now he stands before them and reaches out his heart and hands to offer peace—as a gift to the disciples—as a gift to us. May Christ’s peace be ours—now and forevermore. Amen.
*Cover Art “The Touching of Thomas” via monasteryicons.com
[i] David Lose wwww.workingpreacher.org.