Rev. Merv Lanctot
Peace be with you! (John 20:19)
This Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of St. John tells the story of Jesus appearance to the disciples in the upper room. The disciples were in a voluntary lockdown due to fear from an outside peril which was beyond their control. Not a virus but fear of the Jewish authorities. It was just days after the crucifixion. Jesus appears and says to them “Peace be with you.”
One of the great privileges as a Priest is to extend a blessing to the people of God. The one I am thinking of is found in the Book of Common Prayer which speaks of the “peace of God which passes all understanding”. The peace beyond all understanding was what Jesus offered his disciples that Sunday night.
But the peace that Jesus gives us is not necessarily freedom from discord, crisis or circumstances. Jesus was not going to eliminate the perils outside the walls of the upper room. It is rather an inner calm in the midst of strife. In the midst of the circumstances that the disciples were going to face, the strife they were to encounter. They were given an inner peace in the midst of the storms. Jesus gave a kind of peace that surpasses understanding. A peace to calmly live on the edge, in the midsts of the ups and downs of life.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and be thankful.
This week as I have reflected on this whole idea of letting the peace of Christ rule in my heart, I have thought of several things. We experience the peace of Christ when things are going well. Our children and our grandchildren are doing well. There is a peace within our heart! Our aging parents are doing well. There is a peace within our heart! We have no health issues. There is a peace within our heart! When we are doing well financially. There is a peace within our heart! When things are going well, all is well within our heart. We have a wonderful peace about life in general and we are so thankful for all the blessings we have received. The Lord extends to us His Peace, we are thankful and the Peace of Christ rules within our heart.
But here is the rub! Does the peace of Christ rule in our hearts when things are not going well?
I don’t like being cooped up at home; not seeing my children and grand children; not able to sit down and have coffee with friends. But I seem to have a peace about things. However, when I have to go out for groceries or to the pharmacy, things are different. People are anxious, fearful and I find that I too begin to loose my peace! Does the peace of Christ rule in my heart in times of crisis? Do I express my thankfulness?
Again, reflecting upon our circumstances we find ourselves in today, it quickly comes to mind, that we need to recognize two things for us to maintain our peace. We need to see what we are in control of, and what we are not in control of.
There are things we can control, and things we cannot control! I’m not sure when I first heard this guiding principle as we go through crisis in our life. Maybe at my mother’s side growing up. It’s easy, of course, to nod in affirmation at such a familiar idea, but it’s much harder—some of us might say impossible—to live out. Especially when there’s a pandemic lurking in the streets.
As we look back over our lives we see the things in life that were out of our control. No matter what we do or didn’t do, it was just not up to us.
I recently read a post on Facebook:
I can’t control corona virus—I can’t control where it spreads or who gets it or what policies are being put in place. I’m not a doctor or scientist. I don’t even know what I don’t know. What I can control, however, is what God has put before me: following guidelines for social distancing, shepherding my family in faith, and doing the work I’ve been called to. Similarly, I can’t control the economic situation, but I can make wise choices, and I can give toward those in need.
We can not control the affect of the virus on us or the people around us. That is out of our control. That is when we rely on God’s peace that is beyond our understanding. What we pray for is to Experience God’s peace even when crisis is all around.
I believe Jesus says to each one of us: Peace be with you!
Who can be at peace when our world is turned upside down? We can! We can because we have the one who extends to us His Peace.
May The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Rev Merv Lanctot
Faith Grows in the Soil of Hope!