When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”
John 20: 19-21a
The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom.” It has many different meanings in the scriptures: rest, ease, wholeness, health, security, prosperity, political and spiritual well-being, quietness, unity. Jesus gave peace to the disciples as a gift, something they would need for their future work of making “a new creation.”
As followers of Jesus, we too are given this gift. This peace is not an existence without tension, conflict, suffering or pain. Instead it is a peace that can come through the suffering we experience; that can help us deal with tensions and stress; that can at times turn tension, conflict and turmoil into a creative means of change. But too often we don’t accept this gift of peace – we don’t get beyond the tensions, we don’t use the conflict creatively and thus we miss the true peace that God has for us.
God’s peace within each of us involves self-acceptance, a love of oneself in order to love another. God’s peace puts an emphasis on trust, blessing and love and is available to us because we are children of God. Such peace is brought about by prayer, spiritual disciplines, self-knowledge and understanding, and developing a deep and abiding relationship with God. God’s peace is the motivation for doing justice, for making “a new creation.” The gift of peace is yours. Will you accept it?
That night the apostles met in fear;
amidst them came their Lord most dear,
and said, “My peace be on all here.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!” Jean Tisserand, 15th century
trans. By John Mason Neale, 1851
Think on These Things:
How have I accepted the gift of peace?
What spiritual practices enable me to further develop my relationship with God?
Are there some things I am not now doing that might help me?
Inner peace and justice work are tied together. How do I understand peace as a motivation for justice?
We have God’s promise, and look forward to new heavens and a new earth, the home of justice. With this to look forward to, do your utmost to be found at peace. 2 Peter 3:13-14
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and quarterly retreats and art exhibits.