The Shalom of Christ
Sixth Sunday of Easter—Year C
May 26, 2019
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
Today Jesus’ offers us his peace.
But this isn’t any ordinary peace. This isn’t just the peace and quiet we all yell for in a room of screaming children, or the “world peace” wished for when we toss a penny in a fountain. No, this peace is bigger and broader. This peace is all encompassing and is felt deep within.
The peace Jesus offers in today’s reading from John is shalom.
The idea of shalom is an ancient one, born out of the Jewish faith. The word itself is often translated as “peace,” but that significantly misses the mark of this immense word. The idea of shalom which Jesus is offering to us in this passage is one not simply of quiet, or the ceasing of wars, or even a momentary pause in our hustle and bustle lives. The experience of shalom is one of wholeness and completeness. When we experience shalom our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls dwell in perfect harmony with God and with all of creation. When we experience shalom we are able to rest fully in the love of God.
In shalom we don’t need to strive to be loved or accepted, we are welcomed exactly as we are. In shalom, we know that the world may be out of our control, but it is not out of God’s. Even as the storms of life rage around us, in shalom we are able to draw breath and remember, we are held always in the palm of God’s hand.
On some level I think we all know and long for this experience of shalom. We long for this experience, sensing it exists but not knowing how to get it in the first place, or how to get it back once we’ve had it and lost it.
Our desire for shalom is so strong that we’ll spend our entire lives chasing it. Except if we’re not careful, our pursuit of it can lead us down paths that lead far from God, far from the source of shalom.
The world around us beckons, trying to convince us we can find shalom in a myriad of places. Buy the hottest new fashions, and you’ll find shalom; lose weight and you’ll find shalom; go to the best school and get the best grades, and you’ll find shalom; make the most money, and you’ll find shalom; drive the best car, and you’ll find shalom; take this drug, and you’ll find shalom.
Even those things which seem like they would lead us closer to shalom can instead fact lead us away. Pour yourself out serving others until there is nothing left, and you’ll find shalom; be the perfect “Christian,” and you’ll find shalom.
At the end of the day, none of these things will lead us to wholeness, to completeness, to shalom.
So if the ways the world has told us won’t work, what will? How do we find shalom?
The answer is almost so counter-intuitive, it can be hard to believe, and even harder to do. Because finding shalom doesn’t require us to do more, it asks us to do less. For shalom, the peace that Christ offers, is not earned, it is not bought, or chased down and wrestled to the ground. Christ’s shalom is a gift, one that has already been given each of us, if we can only be still long enough to unwrap it.
Shalom, the sense of wholeness and completeness Christ offers us, is found not in working harder or doing more; but in doing less. When we pause and listen for the still small voice of God we will hear it whispering the essential truth of shalom. That you are loved and welcomed exactly as you are. That there is nothing you have to do, or buy, or change to be loved by God. You are known, you are seen, and you are loved. That is shalom, the peace of Christ, and the gift of God to each of us. Stop, breath, and know it today.