Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. These passages from the New Testament encourage us to follow Jesus’ example and become peace givers:
“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved . . . Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.” (Mark 9: 49-59, NIV)
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”( Luke 8: 48, NIV)
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’” ( Luke 10:5, NIV)
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'” ( Luke 24:36, NIV)
“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7, NIV)
“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15:13, MSG)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Col. 3 :15, NIV)
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3: 18, NIV)
“The Peace of Christ be with you.”
“And also with you.”
This is the “Passing of the Peace,” an ancient and significant liturgical moment in Christian worship. This tradition has morphed in many congregations into something very different. We are directed to “greet those around you” and instantly the entire congregation is abuzz with “Hi, how are you!” But the traditional passing of the peace is rooted in Scripture and embodies our identity as peacemakers (Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:20) and trains our hearts, hands, and tongues in the ways of peace.
From the beginning Christians exercised this practice. “Peace be with you” is a greeting Jesus used with his disciples and nearly everyone with whom he interacted. The apostle Paul opened each of his letters with the words “Grace and peace be with you.” At one time, the passing of the peace assured believers meeting in secret that they could trust each other as they faced opposition and feared persecution. Once the passing of the peace declared that the presence of Christ shared by believers allowed them to have reconciliation with each other. In some liturgical traditions the passing of the peace during a worship service follows the declaration of forgiveness of sins and implies that we forgive others now that at we have been forgiven
When Jesus bid people peace, he used the word “shalom.” Shalom does indeed mean peace. But to English speakers, peace is the absence of conflict; it is the state of calm or serenity. Shalom, however, also means well-being, health, flourishing, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, as well as both hello and goodbye. When Jesus and Paul offered people “shalom,” they were offering a blessing on their lives, not just bidding them a quiet day.
Christians are stilled called to offer peace to a world of lawsuits, divorce courts, strident political debates, neighborhood clashes, congregational combat, social media gossip, racial tension, and general name calling. Wishing and bidding another peace might be the least we can do to offer harmony and well-being. Try some of these ways to bring peace into your world.
♥ Teach your children and your grandchildren the blessing of “passing the peace” and incorporate it into family meals or bedtime rituals or birthday celebrations.
♥ How can we “pass the peace” to co-workers, to sales persons, or to strangers on the street? Perhaps instead of saying, “Have a good day,” we can say “I wish you a peaceful day.”
♥ Focus on keeping the spirit of “shalom” as you drive or shop or stand in line. Instead of spouting off or being rude or impatient to someone who irritates you, keep a spirit of peace and harmony in your heart – and even offer it to them.
♥ Be careful what you repeat and how you repeat what you hear on talk radio or read on Twitter or on Facebook or YouTube or see on TV reality shows. Ask yourself, “Will this bring peace into my world or will it bring unnecessary strife, debate, or judgment?” If it will, don’t share it.
♥ The Prayer of Examen teaches us to look back at our day for life-thwarting events. Conflict, name calling, and nastiness are truly life-thwarting. They drain us of shalom and encourage revenge, even if that means kicking the dog instead of the person who hurt us. Scrutinize your day for times when you have heaped shame and blame and pain on others and ask for forgiveness. If someone has hurt you in this way, offer forgiveness in your heart.
MORE FOR THOUGHT
“The nature of the journey is that we will wrestle sometimes with fear. . . . We long for peace, for evidence of the resurrection, yet we are apt to miss it because it shows up as an assignment—to forgive. We struggle to find peace in our lives, in our world, because we do not understand yet that peace is the by-product of being sent as Jesus was sent. It is the fruit of humility and self-sacrifice. We can learn to believe in what we cannot see; we can practice what we have not yet learned: forgiving ourselves, forgiving one another, making real God’s life in the world.” (By: Kayla McClurg in Season and Scripture: Easter B, John).