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Peace: Ours to Receive -- and Give

In church we say things so often it’s easy to forget they are true. More than true: some liturgical phrases have the power to change the world. Like children reciting E=Mc2 we are unaware of the power on our lips. Consider the simple greeting, “Peace be with you” and the group response, “And also with you.” It’s a simple exchange, offered and returned where God’s people gather.

Peace is a gift, ours to receive, and then ours to give. On what was perhaps the darkness night in history Jesus said to his friends, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus saw the betrayal and violence that would arrive before sunrise. He saw the hopelessness of midday. He wanted to equip his friends. He offered peace, capable of overcoming troubled hearts and abject fear. The same Jesus who could sleep on a boat during a violent storm said to his friends, "My peace I give to you." His words were not a command, they were a gift. He did not offer Biblical clarity, nor strategic insight. Indeed, what he offered passed understanding. He offered something from another world. He offered the in-breaking of a kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy. On that sacramental night, the high priest gave not only bread and wine. He gave peace as well.

And yet peace is a strategy as well. Jesus trained us to offer peace: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:5-6) Peace is something a disciple carries without benefit of a bag or purse. Peace is a gift we give to anyone who shows hospitality. Peace is the starting point of all ministry, the axis of the good news. Peace is tangible: it is given and received—yet peace has a mind of its own, choosing whether to stay or return.

In the Kingdom of God is peace is more than a platitude. Peace is something other than a high-minded ideal. Peace is how God equips his people. Peace is so real it can be carried and offered to others. What if the antidotes to uncertainty and fear are not knowledge and courage, but peace: freely received, and freely given?

What if peace has been God's gift to you from the very beginning, and he is waiting for you to both receive it and give it to others?

Peace be with you.

Reader Comments (1)

I really do not know what this means. The phrase is killed by repitition. We can think about "the peace that passes understandng"; i.e. it is supra-rational or not amenable to rational understanding. It might mean that I won't remember that this guy threw me out of the church, and do not offer him hostility. I have to surmise that there is something cultural in this expression that we are missing. To use valley-girl speak, I almost have to think something like "barf!" when certain people say "peace" to me. It's as if they are saying "peace, peace" -- but there is no peace. And, I return to your website after a long absence, still looking.

April 22, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercharles

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