Prospect of Peace
What is peace? Is it inner serenity, keeping a cool head when life turns upside-down? Does peace for one mean pain for another? News sound bites and politicians speak of peace: cessation of conflict, sometimes enforced by the development of terrible weapons or threats of economic retribution, brittle alliances and power struggles. The peace of the world is the peace of selfish thought: my own way is right, my own perspective is the norm, and the world must accommodate me. This peace is littered with unsaid words, covered-up hurts, and constricting prisons of coercion. The peace of the world comes at the terrible price of our souls, our selves.
Good thing we have another example. In John's gospel, during what is called the Farewell Discourse, Judas (not Iscariot) asks a question that prompts a benediction, which includes these words, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." It is curious that Jesus would deliver these words to the disciples here, but he is trying to take one last moment to instill in them a sense of empathy. Christ has an understanding of the grief, the lack of peace, his disciples will experience, and he wants to give them the peace and reassurance to support them in their time of sorrow.
The peace of Christ calls us to abandon the peace of the world, to receive the radical peace that Christ brings, acceptance without restriction, love without control. The peace of Christ gives up the self and embraces the reality of others. The peace of Christ is less "how can I be at peace" and more "how can I help another person learn what peace is?" The peace of Christ sits with broken or strained relationships, opens us to the daily struggles of another person, out of work, grieving a loss, fighting a new diagnosis. The peace of Christ sees the broken world, and instead of walling away from it to preserve serenity, this peace goes forth and eases the worry-lines, offers a helping hand to the frustrated parent, relief to the overworked caretaker. In the words of Rev. Schuyler Rhodes, "This peace removes our cultural obsession with me - me - me - me and faces it outward in active, self-giving love."
~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd