The second Sunday of Easter always features this scene where Jesus finds his disciples just days following his brutal death. He finds them huddled together in fear. The gospel says, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you.”
They had just experienced horrible trauma, witnessing the brutal killing of their rabbi at the hands of the authorities.
I think of the people in Sri Lanka, and the death and violence that befell them on Easter Sunday. I think of the survivors who witnessed friends gunned down in school, in their houses of worship, while attending a music event or night club. I think of the reoccurring waves of violence and hate speech that reverberate in our own country and throughout the world.
On a more personal and local level I think of John and Lorna’s son, Paul, who arrived upon an accident to find his own son dead in the street. I think of the young woman who was rushing to the hospital in response to an emergency involving her father, who hit and killed two children waiting for the school bus on a foggy morning. I think of heavy news borne by members of our parish. I think of conditions and circumstances in our world and how many of us find ourselves hiding in fear and worry and discouragement.
The followers of Jesus were traumatized, eye witnesses of horrible violence perpetrated upon an innocent man whom they knew and loved. How does life continue when it is so deeply wounded with violence, fear, trauma and loss?
In the Book of Acts, we find the same people whom Jesus found huddled in fear, standing before high priest and the temple court. They were unafraid, unintimidated, undaunted. They no longer were hiding from the very ones who were behind the death of Jesus, but boldly standing before them with inner resolve. The Peace of God is a powerful force.
Jesus told his disciples that in the world there is tribulation, there is terrorism, there is violence, and hatred, there is tyranny and corruption, there is sadness and grief, heartache and fear…and even in the midst of all this there is a peace that is deeper and stronger than all of it, a peace that is beyond comprehension, a peace that should not be there but is there by the breath of God.
One of the church’s primary purposes is to pray, to breath upon the world and “Peace, be with you.” Our times, our neighbors, our world needs a deep breath of peace. We need that deep peace that Jesus gave his disciples in their time of trauma and fear, a peace that lifts us from the place of intimidation, of discouragement, of anguish and disquiet. A peace that restores our faith, our joy, our hope for our lives, and the life of our world. A peace that is composed in the face of violence. A peace that brings calm in an age of restlessness.
Jesus, stood with his disciples and breathed, Peace, Be with you…and in time, those lives who were huddled in fear went out and became instruments of peace.
So I close with this prayer for ourselves, and for our city, our nation, and our world:
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite divine to you.