Rumor has it that when Jesus was getting ready to leave the planet, he gathered some of his friends together to give them a farewell gift. It wasn’t a token gift, or a fancy gift. It was the most practical and necessary present that he could leave them as he prepared to leave them behind. He had important work to do and so did they, and to do that work, they would need to draw upon his gift every day.
I like to imagine him looking down, pausing for a moment, gathering his strength in the midst of his own inner angst at what lay ahead, and then locking eyes with each of his friends, one at a time, and saying “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
He didn’t tell them that peace was something to be hoped for someday, it was to be had right now. It wasn’t your typical gift that comes with strings attached, it was freely given. The peace he offered was meant to ease their troubled hearts and drop kick the fear right out of them, and when he was gone, they would carry that peace with them wherever they went.
In our church, at the end of each service, before the final blessing, we turn to one another and do what we call “passing the peace”. We lock eyes and say peace be with you, and respond with the words and also with you. It is a way of remembering that long ago gift, and bringing into the present, and as was originally intended, it is meant to ease our troubled hearts and drop kick the fear right out of them.
We all have important work to do in order to leave our little corner of the world better than we found it, and in order to do that work we need to draw upon the gift of peace every day.
Peace be with you.
Pass it on.