‘The peace of Christ’

Published 7:42 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

I remember as a child going to summer Vacation Bible School and learning a song that said, “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart.” Each line built in word-count and tongue-twisting challenge. One line sang about the “peace that passes understanding.” Over the years, I learned about the ancient Hebrew concept of Shalom. There is a peace so complete and abiding as to be unshakable.

There are days when peace feels completely absent. The very earth seems to shake. Our mind struggles to find our way out of the “escape room” of some crisis we face. Our heart melts like wax, or recoils in pain from some moment of hurt. We pray for help and strength. One Christian friend of mine asked the question: what it would be to first pray for peace?

With each breath, we re-enact the tale of Genesis 2 where God first gave humanity life. With each breath, we can remember God’s presence and promise to abide with us always. With each breath, we can experience being in the gracious grip of God, held in the space of Shalom.

Shalom is not just a sanctuary away from trouble. It is an unshakeable peace, regardless of the surrounding conditions. God is present with us, working to create peace-with-justice. God is at work to bring healing and hope, to halt oppression and injustice and to speak the truth with love, so that all people bow to its clarity and call.

You will play a role in our community today. As long as you have breath, you are given time on this earth and can be used by God to contribute to the creation of Shalom for others. So, what will you do? Will you speak to others with love, kindness and compassion? Will you open your eyes to the brokenness and need of another? Will you share a moment of awareness with someone who feels overlooked or rejected? Will you stand resolute, to help others see a model of living that strives to be more like God intended in the first place?

With each breath we are given a holy gift and a holy commission. Let us use each one well. You are blessed with life this day. Go and bless the lives of others, and may the Peace of Christ be with you, always.

REV. MICHAEL KENDALL is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email address is mkendall@farmvilleumc.org.