Cotham Easter 3 15th April 2018
“While they were still talking about this Jesus himself appeared among them and said to them ‘Peace be with you’.
It’s the word Jews said when they met on the street. And when they do so they are expressing their hope and belief that one day, one day God’s order of peace and forgiveness and would come to the earth and humanity would learn to live together in love and harmony.
Peace. Throughout the Holy Week and Easter story Jesus is constantly offering Peace. There at the last meal he had had with his friends on the night before he died. There when he appeared through the securely locked doors to the frightened, confused and guilty disciples, And again, as we have just heard, the risen Jesus greets them with the words “Peace be with you” when the remaining disciples are all back in Jerusalem.
Peace, It could have been so different couldn’t it? Before this moment his so-called friends, his disciples, had denied ever having known him,
had abandoned him, betrayed him. He was killed and they were gone. Jesus’s battered and broken body had been taken down from the cross and sealed in a stone-cold tomb. No one ever survived crucifixion, Yet here he is. Jesus is standing with them, eating broiled fish with them. He could have said so many things. He could have expressed his frustration, rebuked them for their betrayal, told then they were useless. But Jesus never brings up their failure. Instead of anger and retribution Jesus’s first words are of Peace. He is offering them reconciliation What is broken is being mended, restored. They are being offered such love. Love that will restore them to unity with God and with each other. They didn’t, couldn’t earn such love. It was God’s gift. They are ransomed, healed restored, forgiven.
Peace. Whenever the risen Jesus offers his peace we are being reminded of the ministry to which he has called his Church and therefore the ministry to which we are each called. We live in a world that is desperate for peace. Our news bulletins are full of stories of violence and war. Full of stories of division and strife. Constant criticism and ridicule. That is the background and experience of so many lives. But the mission of the Church is to share the peace of Christ. To speak peace into the chaos, to be agents and ministers of reconciliation. So many are isolated and divided, separated from each other and from God. And they need the peace of Christ.
And as someone pointed out recently every Sunday we practice. Before we present our offering at the altar, before we eat together, we share with others the peace of Christ. In so doing we are not just saying “Good morning” or “Nice to see you” or “How’s the bunions”. The moment of sharing the peace is a moment of reconciliation. A living sign of the mission we are called to embark on.
Jesus crucified and risen a stands among his disciples and with the word “Peace” announces that the victory has been won and the new age has begun. And he commissions them and us to carry his peace in our hearts and in our lives together and to take it out into the world. “As the Father sent me,” says Jesus “so I send you”. And we know that, because of Easter, we go out into the world as people who are fully known, fully understood, fully forgiven and fully loved by a love stronger than death.
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!