As you listened to the gospel reading yesterday (John 20:19-31), you heard Jesus say, "Peace be with you" three times. The first was when he first materialized through a locked door and reintroduced himself to the disciples gathered in that room. The second was as a lead in to his commissioning ("as the Father has sent me, so I send you"). The third peace was offered a week later when he, once again, appeared through a closed door, this time appearing to Thomas.
Jesus' peace seems to be offered for two purposes: one, as a prayer seeking his disciples' well-being and, two, as a prayer preparing for them to go in his name. If peace is just for us to be safe and secure, the passage indicates Jesus' followers won't be satisfied. Discipleship is about more than meeting my needs. If discipleship is simply about being sent without a sense of security, then the anxiety associated with following will prevent our peace. Jesus offers both peace in him and peace in going forth for him.
Going well, Rev. Jiunnies' sermon reminded us, starts with understanding our lives in Christ. He loves us. He forgives us. He gives us new life. He sees in us tremendous value, enough to call us to significant work in his name. That work is done more faithfully and joyfully when it is grounded in recognition of God's love for us and mercy toward us. Until we accept God's unending love and acceptance and begin to love and accept ourselves, our love and acceptance for others will be stunted. Until we're at peace with ourselves, we'll compare ourselves with others - the old "what-about-ism" that seems to be sweeping our world ("You think it's bad what I did, what about what they did?" "You think we have a lot, look at what they have.").
Jesus' peace doesn't come from comparing ourselves with others. It comes from realizing he accepted a cross and materialized through doors on our behalf, then thought enough of us to send us out to love others in his name. If he thinks that much of you, it's time you think that much of yourself. If he came in person to be with you and offer you peace, it's time you go to offer your presence and peace in his name.
It is always time to pray for peace, too. This week the women of Central have an opportunity to see how God is answering those prayers by bringing peace and healing to precious lives. The Women Wanting Wisdom: Beyond #MeToo event Thursday evening is going to be the kind of night that attendees will be reflecting on for weeks to come, and those who don't make it will, I predict, regret they missed such a meaningful night. Women, if you haven't already, get your tickets today!