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Pass the Peace, Please

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

This devotional meditation was originally written in December of 2019 and published in the Devotions for Lent booklet created and distributed by The Church of the Good Shepherd UMC — before the world changed for us all. It appears as the reading for today (April 4, 2020). I pray the words may offer you a peace that passes all understanding in your time and place this day.

I’m well acquainted with sweeping things under the rug to “preserve the peace,” buttoning my lip in order not to “disrupt the peace” and occasionally inserting myself to “restore the peace,” but I confess that being asked to “pass the peace” during a church service leaves me somewhat uncomfortable. While others seem to revel in the greetings with warm handshakes and hugs, I suspect there is more to this than well-wishing and the opportunity to visit with those in the next pew or across the aisle.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. When Christ offered these words of comfort to his disciples he was preparing them for the days he knew lay ahead. We are heirs to this same peace, one that is both personal and relational, a shalom. Because the Light of Christ has come into the world we are invited to enact that peace, offering it to each other in an expression of warmth, comfort and welcome.

This is such a simple act, yet brimming with faithfulness and trust, because how well do I really know you? True, you are my pew-mate, my neighbor, my co-parishioner or perhaps my guest, but what about the politics you practice, the parenting style you’ve adopted and the lifestyle you lead? Whoa, what a risk Jesus took in leaving His peace with us!

I do not give to you as the world gives. This is not a worldly peace – nothing so temporary as a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities, nor so transient as a handshake or a hug. The peace Christ gives is insurmountable and uncontainable, yet when I hold it in my hand it weighs nothing and means everything. It is the peace that settles on a prayer-filled room where everything is at stake but there is nothing left to be done. This peace passes all understanding, yet it extends tangibly and undeniably from hand to hand and heart to willing heart.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. As I extend my hand to offer the peace of the Living Christ to you, my friend, my neighbor, my companion on this journey of faith, may the weight of our world be lifted and the love of Christ take its place both within us and between us. For there is nothing in the universe as constant as the presence of Jesus who promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Today: Consider these words of remarkable dialogue from the beautifully conceived play, Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson: “I choose to measure you in light.” If the hand we extend is filled with the peace of Christ, how now may we see the other by the Light of Christ? Blessed indeed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.

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Peace Out

we the peopleLet’s DO this!  …

At a certain time, say, 7:00 pm Friday night, we all just walk out of the building we are in. Just out.

Just for a few minutes.
Not rally, not speeches, not organized.

Just OUT.

Quiet.
Talk to neighbor. Just OUT.
Solidarity.
Done.

Ready to move on.
Beyond guns.
Beyond oligarchy.
Beyond injustice.
Beyond racism.
Beyond homophobia.
Beyond sexism.
Beyond putting one another down to feel raised up.
Beyond fear.
Beyond hatred.
Beyond pitting one against another.
Beyond destroying this Earth that holds us.

Together we stand.
Stand.
I stand here, next to you.
You stand there, next to me.

Person by Person. Neighborhood by neighborhood.
City by City.
Land by Land.
Together.

We, the people.

~ Magi Treece

Use Your Words

wordTwo kids play in the sandbox until one wants the toy the other has and helps himself. Dispossessed kid shoves the other to reclaim the toy. “Use your words, child!”

Happy family out to dinner and the time is getting late. Junior fidgets, whines then tantrums. “Use your words, child!”

Children changing classes through crowded halls. One shoves the other launching his books across the floor. His reward is snickers and laughter. “Use your words, child…”

What words?

Boys tease. Girls taunt. Don’t.
Friend shuns. Date advances. Hush.
Boss berates. Spouse lambastes. Quiet.
Neighbor is passive aggressive. Mute.
Gossip in lots of words. Nope.

What to do with our
Impatience, frustration, boredom, anger.
Words unused leave us with
Distrust, bias, hatred, vengeance.

“Use your words,” we tell them.

Learn to speak your feelings,
express your anger,
portray your emotions.
Because what’s inside is designed to come out.

Our human nature reacts.
Our instincts respond.
And our real-time world doesn’t wait for
us to craft the perfect expression.
It spits, fights and lashes out.

As it did in the sandbox,
at the dinner table and
in the school hallway.

If we don’t learn to use our words and
we don’t practice using our words,
we forget how to use our words.

Use your words to speak up.
…All voices matter.
Use your words to speak out.
…Justice demands to be heard.
Use your words to speak to me.
…I am listening.

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. ~ Psalm 139:4

Child, use the word I have spoken to you, spoken in you, and am yet speaking. Speak peaceably. Speak honestly. Speak respectfully. You know these words. They are mine as you are mine.

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