Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…
It is a group of anxious, confused, frightened disciples around the table in an upper room on the night before Jesus’ death. They have shared a meal. Their master has (of all the strange things) washed their feet. One of their own, Judas Iscariot, has gone mysteriously into the night. They have been given a new commandment about love. And Jesus has been talking on and on about leaving them and returning for them and encouraging them with some sort of advocate or guide. None of it makes sense…yet.
Friday’s cross will not help matters. Saturday’s profound sense of abandonment won’t either. Even Sunday, with Magdalene’s strange news about Jesus rising from the dead, will come as a tale too tall for believing.
But then, in spite of doors and hearts locked by fear, Jesus will stand again in their midst. He bears the scars of his struggle, to be sure. But he is again among them. And the first word out of his mouth? “Peace. Peace be with you.”
Perhaps we need to hear that word, too.
Seasons of change are hard, but (as the disciples come to realize) they are also opportunities for being pointed in new directions toward new possibilities. That is especially true when the One who leads the adventure is not just another fellow mortal traveler but the Christ…the One in whose peace we discover the great depths of mercy and hope and possibility which God has in store for us.
It is with that and into that peace that I leave you, dear friends. For the past nine years, it has been our privilege to share Christ’s mission. We’ve bumped our noses a few times, to be sure. But we have also been blessed to be a blessing to our neighbors and to one another in some new and significant ways. I hope we can look back on this sojourn as a time of faithful endeavor for Christ’s sake.
And so…peace I leave with you. Christ’s peace and continued blessing I pray for you. The future, already bright with God’s destiny for us, awaits your continued discernment and steady work. I commend you to it with thanksgiving and love.