When Jesus walked into the room where his disciples were gathered on the evening of the resurrection he said, “Peace be with you (John 20:19-31).” If ever a group needed to hear that greeting, it was his disciples. They were hiding behind locked doors because they were afraid. The execution of their master was still fresh in their minds. Certainly, they were afraid they would be killed, too, because they were his followers. No doubt they were also experiencing lots of confusion. There were rumors that Jesus’ body had been stolen. Other reports said he was alive. That night, the disciples surely must have been riding the waves of broken hearts and fear on one hand and great excitement and hope at the possibility that Jesus had indeed risen, on the other.
These days, most of us ride those same waves. Our hearts are broken over the deaths of those who have died in the current pandemic, the recent diagnosis of having the virus or another serious illness, or financial disaster. Our spirits are lifted by the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses, the unexpected Easter basket that may have arrived on our doorstep or the heartwarming and even comical Facetime and Zoom interactions with family and friends. As he did with the heartbroken, fearful and cautiously optimistic disciples, the resurrected Jesus walks into the rooms of our lives and says, “Peace be with you”. Things may not be as we want them to be, but Jesus is with us, fully alive.
After his greeting of peace, Jesus filled his disciples with the life of the Holy Spirit. We have that same life through the sacrament of Baptism. We can give the warmth of that life to each other. The warmth of our words of concern, reassurance and support. The warmth of our hopeful attitudes even when it is tough to feel hopeful. The warmth of a friendly wave until our smiles can be seen again. Giving virtual hugs. To be instruments of peace in our world, we first need to be instruments of warmth.
I need to hear Jesus’ greeting of peace in my life. So do the parents of a son who has died from the virus, a nurse who is trying to care for her children and her patients, a child who is wondering if school will ever open again. So do all of us who in these difficult days are constantly riding the waves of fear and hope. It is up to us to not let Jesus’ greeting of peace be only a memory of words spoken in a locked room 2,000 years ago. We are not hiding behind locked doors these days. Those of us who can are staying behind the doors of our homes for the good of all. Today, let’s allow Jesus to walk into the rooms of our lives in whatever condition they may be and pronounce that most welcome greeting, “Peace be with you.”
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector