The Stodden Churches

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter 

 On the first Easter Sunday Jesus came and stood among the disciples. It is interesting to note that the Risen Jesus comes and speaks to them whilst the doors remain firmly bolted in fear.

What are the first words Jesus offers to his disciples post resurrection? They are on the theme of “Peace”. Jesus says to them 'Peace be with you' and then only a little while later, again; “Peace be with you” (John 20:19, 21.)

At the heart of the Risen Jesus’ message is “Peace”; in Hebrew, which is probably the language Jesus used to actually speak to the disciples it is “shalom”. “Shalom” is much more than “Have a nice day” or the Anglican “Peace be with you” from the Communion service where the Peace is shared. “Shalom” is all about “wholeness”. This “Peace” that Jesus speaks to the disciples is all about God-oriented flourishing being with you – with all who follow him as Lord, whether in the locked room then or in our 21st Century now.

Those disciples had only heard Jesus speak of “peace” just a few days previously, when they were in the Upper Room before Jesus’ arrest. Then Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives”. Jesus’ peace is all about what he has achieved in his broken body on the Cross; the wounds of which Jesus shows the disciples in that locked room. Jesus’ peace is not a longing, a wish, but an objective reality found in the pain of his suffering on the Cross. Jesus’ scars are the evidence of his peace. It is because of the deep cost and pain that Jesus has born for all those who follow him that his peace is real and transforming; a well-being that is assured, an inner rest that is deep, because it comes from a broken body that achieved fellowship with God. It is real “Shalom”.

This is a special and unique peace that Jesus offers, to his disciples then, and to his disciples now. This peace comes not because circumstances are easy, but because whatever the circumstances Jesus is present with us – something which the first disciples came to know as they began and became the early church. Jesus’ peace is built on the assurance of his presence (gloriously physical for those first disciples), and the trustworthiness of his promises (wonderfully illustrated in the coming of the Spirit for those first disciples at Pentecost as well as in his Empty Grave). These early disciples became leaders of the Church, committed to introducing people to the one who offers peace.
And now for us in this pandemic, in our doubts and concerns about the future. If we listen through our fears and doubts for the Risen Jesus’ voice, Jesus speaks to us. He offers us the same peace that he offered his first disciples. 

Lord, may we know your peace deep within us.
May we bring your peace to those we love,
Share your peace with those who don’t know it,
And champion your peace in a broken world. Amen.

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