Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peace Be With You

"Peace be with you".  Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I remember this traditional greeting during mass very well.  What I remember most is that it actually did bring me peace, even as I nostalgically look back.  Within a brief moment of time, barriers were broken and the peace that Christ offers all of us was shared and experienced.  I often wonder why other denominations don't adopt something similar during worship services.  For those of you unfamiliar with the liturgy, just before celebrating Communion, the following order is observed:
Priest:  “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.”

All Amen.

Priest:  “The Peace of the Lord be with you always.”

All And also with you.

Deacon or Priest:  “Let us offer each other a sign of peace.”

I’ve always found it interesting that one section of the liturgy is dedicated to “peace”, and often ponder the fact that many evangelical churches have possibly lost a precious aspect of worship.  Over the last month or two, I've been convicted about the lack of peace that surrounds my life.  Maybe you experience the same thing.  We live in a chaotic culture and sometimes it seems that the circumstances that surround us encourage less peace and more division.  It's ironic because I don't think there are any of us that would deny that we long for more peace in our lives.  I firmly believe that peace is an essential aspect of how we were created.  A deep seated aspect of creation that has become especially vulnerable to the effects of a fallen world.

As I pondered peace and how illusive it seems to be, I made an interesting observation: Peace has nothing to do with outside circumstances.  Could it be that it's not so much that peace cannot be found, but we subconsciously refuse to seek it?  Or is it possible that peace is not something that we even should consider seeking, but rather should be seen as something we possess, but refuse to utilize it to its full potential?  Do we keep peace to ourselves and fail to utilize the power of peace because we refuse to initiate it?  Like owning a self-propelled lawn mower and choosing to cut our grass with scissors?  Like a cure for cancer being found and not released to a waiting and dying world?  Could it be that we are peace's worst enemy?  Personally speaking, is peace up to me, and only me?

Just before Jesus was betrayed, arrested and crucified, He spoke to His disciples, communicating the essential truths that would sustain them after He was gone.  As He comforts His friends, assuring them that His power would still flow through their midst, by the Holy Spirit, He says to them, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27).  Think about those words for a moment.  Jesus doesn't promise that they will have peace.  He doesn't claim that peace will come to them eventually.  He tells them that they have peace.  They possess peace.  He gives it to them, and as followers of Christ, He gives us that same peace.  We have peace.  It lies in our hands.  It's up to us how much peace that we see around us and how much peace flows through our lives and communities.      

Paul says in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  I have to admit that this is very humbling for me.  As far as it depends on me, there is much more I can do to promote peace among my communities.  I don't live at peace with everyone and there are many opportunities that I've missed to create peace rather than division.  For those times, and the people that have been affected, I'm sorry and ask for forgiveness. 

This morning I went on a long walk with my dog.  As I meditated on this topic and prayed about how I can be more of an instrument of God's peace, I began to do something strange.  I began to wave and every single car that passed me on the road I was walking along.  Not much of a big deal on my part.  Waving at strangers is not going to change the world, but what was more important is the reaction that I witnessed from the people I made brief contact with.  Literally every single person that saw me, not only waved back but returned with a smile on their face.  It was obvious and overwhelming.  People that may have been on their way to work, heads down and robotically focused on the road in front of them, broke into a smile, some even seemed to laugh.  It was amazing.  Maybe they just thought I was strange and got a kick out of it.  I don't know.  But there was a viable and apparent reaction and I had a blast!  I found myself smiling more, chuckling and waving more eagerly!  

Years ago, there was an old Asian man that sat on the curb of the busiest road in my neighborhood and just waved at everyone.   Every morning at the same time, he was there.  He became part of my morning commute and a welcome sight as I made my way to work.  I waved back to him every time I saw him and we both shared a smile.  We both connected in an informal greeting.  We both shared peace.  The peace that he had, he offered me, and the peace I possessed, I returned to him.  I don't see this man anymore.  He disappeared a few years ago, but I still think about him when I drive past his corner of greetings.      

No comments: