All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
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.
(Jesus in the Gospel of John 14:26-27)
Sometimes knowing and understanding is overwhelming. The last few weeks were the hardest. They knew something was coming; but they didn’t understand it. Jesus knew what was coming and he did understand it. The feeling comes in lots of different situations.
Graduation from high school or college is a time to celebrate. Students know it’s coming but they don’t really understand it. Parents know and understand; it can be overwhelming. There is both joy and heartache; grief and gratitude. The same is true in the struggles of addiction and illness; the blessing and challenges of weddings; the grief and honoring of life at funerals; the joy and apprehension of retirement; babies being born; job changes…life. We humans are quite a mix of God’s creation! We find ourselves navigating emotions and circumstances that, at any given moment, can quickly feel like life is spinning out of control.
When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples he was at the last of his ministry on earth. Things were changing and they were changing fast. He knew what was coming. The disciples – the small group of guys – could feel the tension and they knew something was happening and they heard him saying the words about what was going to happen. But they could not grasp it. How could they? It was beyond what they ever could have imagined would happen. In this moment, Jesus is giving them words of hope and assurance because they are going to need them.
You will not be alone! The Spirit will be with you and help you. Do not be afraid; I am leaving my Peace with you. Do not be troubled…do not be burdened…what I give you is of God and nothing will take it away.
Right now it may feel like COVID19 has control. Households are being rearranged. Businesses are transitioning from office to home. Jobs are furloughed. Social distancing is wreaking havoc with our need to be near one another. Weddings are being hastened. Plans are …. well, all of our “plans” are on hold or simply let go. And still, life is happening – births, deaths, graduations, retirements, transitions, marriages, divorces, work, etc. Each of these coming with its own joy and sorrow.
The resurrected Christ speaks right through this moment with these words: Peace! “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.” How do you grab hold of something greater than fear or grief or sorrow or joy or confusion or any other overwhelming?
A breath prayer is a way to begin. Just pick one that works for you today and carry it in your heart, on your lips, in your mind. Say it with your breath. Breath in; breath out and let these words come into your body and spirit. The Lord is faithful. God hears our hearts. Do not hesitate – simply begin.
Lord Christ, bring peace; we need you.
Lord Christ, have mercy on us; we trust you completely.
God of heaven, come quickly to help us.
Peace Be Still by Lauren Daigle