While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
This past week during VBS, I opened the doors to the front of the church to let in a youth helper and a little boy in need of a bathroom break. He told me he was this many (three fingers) and his name. I followed them down the hall toward the restrooms as the music emanated from the Great Hall and he began to dance to it, singing the words he’d learned... Shalom, Chavarim. It means, “peace, friends.” What better phrase could there be for a child to learn in as many languages as possible?
For many people around the world, Shalom is the one Hebrew word they know. It’s both a common greeting and farewell. Except for a brief period in the 1960s and 70s, the same cannot be said of English. But it’s how Christ greeted people and what he offered. What would it be like for us to start there too? To greet our friends and strangers with peace? What would it be like to orient ourselves to creating, offering, building peace? Quick to offer grace and forgiveness, to release grudges and ask to be released from hate in turn? Jesus told us peace-makers are blessed.
The youth and I recently watched the film Best of Enemies, based on the true story of a KKK clan leader and a civil rights activist first squaring off over school integration and then becoming lifelong friends. It was not organic. It required they both be people of faith with common ground, both parents, and a peacemaker to forge a bridge between them. Imagine what we could do if we greeted people with peace, chose peace, releases our malice, and worked each day to be at peace with one another. This week, find a way to greet a stranger in peace or make a small peace with a family or friend and make your former of the world on of Shalom - deep peace - Christ’s peace.