This Week’s Reflection Comes From
Rev. Aileen Robbins
and Member of Synod Council
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Bountiful God, you gather your people into your realm, and you promise us food from your tree of life. Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit we may love one another and the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Jesus answered [Judas (not Iscariot),] “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 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. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”
I met recently with someone to discuss matters of prayer when she asked me, “Where do you find peace?”
It caught me off guard. And so I thought a while before I answered her, “I don’t think we find peace. I think peace comes to us.”
Oddly enough, peace comes to me in the midst of chaos. Peace comes to me when I am sitting face to face with someone who is facing demons or is in the midst of a huge crisis. Peace comes to me when it’s late and I’m at a meeting and my one remaining brain cell is about to give out. Peace comes to me when the office is crazy busy and I have to get that Bible Study done or the sermon written and the phone rings yet again.
It’s crazy, I know, that peace should be sensed in the midst of busy-ness and crisis and turmoil and even death. But, I think that when Jesus offers us peace, it isn’t a silent, one way, mountain top experience. I think peace in the midst of craziness was what he meant.
In the Gospel of John Jesus gets rather long winded and we forget where he started. This week we find Jesus and the disciples still gathered around the table where the Last Supper has ended. Judas has gone out to betray his Lord. Simon Peter is still wrestling with the hard truth that he doesn’t have what it takes to walk through the next hours beside his Master. All of the disciples are confused and confounded. Jesus is speaking words of comfort and hope to these friends for the days ahead.
He does not offer them an island oasis or a time apart from the crowds. In fact, Jesus is leading them right into the heart of injustice and violence and what he offers in the middle of that is peace. Peace that is not as the world gives.
Life was about to take a turn for the worst for those disciples. They were about to witness the arrest, the torture, the crucifixion of the one they had come to love. They were about to lock themselves in behind closed doors for fear of the authorities. They were about to be directionless, lost, beyond hope and desperate. All they would have would be one another.
In the midst of the chaos and the craziness and the violence they would have Jesus’ words to cling to: Love one another. For in that command lies a promise. Love one another is really the promise of a community grounded in the grace and mercy of God. No matter what, our vision, our goals, our work is for God’s kingdom and for God’s reign in the world.
Maybe that’s why peace comes to us in the midst of ministry of our churches. Because we all love God and we all love Jesus and we all love one another. Oh, I don’t mean warm, fuzzy, bff on facebook kind of love. Let’s face it, some days loving one another is a bit challenging.
When I speak of loving one another, I mean a love that causes us to be committed to working together for the good of one another and the kingdom of God. A love that causes us to lift up one another’s abilities so that real ministry happens-the ministry that feeds hungry people and causes those without shelter to find homes and justice to be enacted in Christ’s name. Love that allows us to forgive one another those missteps and mishaps that happen when people come together.
Jesus promises a peace that is not of this world. Jesus gives us a peace with a purpose; a peace that comes from knowing he is in the midst of us. Jesus gives us a peace that comes from knowing he has sent the Spirit to work through us; a peace that assures us that even when we can’t agree, we will be heading in the right direction as long as we’re side by side trusting that along the way we have the Spirit to nudge us and correct us and teach us and remind us.
In the meanwhile, we have each other and we have the work that Christ has set before us. Knowing that gives me peace. Real peace. Peace as gift and promise from that only one who can give it.