As someone intimately familiar with anxiety, I always feel a bit defensive when it comes to Bible passages like John 14. They remind me of how scripture has been weaponized to shame those with mental health issues. Jesus’ peace also seems so impractical. After all, fear is a response that allows us to survive.
My qualms are soothed by turning to the language of first-century Israel-Palestine. While the word peace in English typically communicates some kind of absence—of violence, of noise, of confusion—its counterpart in Hebrew, shalom, connotes total and complete well-being bestowed by God. Similarly, the word for peace in New Testament Greek, eirene, goes beyond absence to communicate harmonious relationships with God and others.
The peace Jesus offers, therefore, is not blissful ignorance. It does not minimize our emotions. Rather, it creates a safe space, a home where we are never alone because the “Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” is with us. In Greek, the Holy Spirit literally is the “one who comes alongside.” Jesus’ peace is the comfort of sitting in silence with a friend. It is the security of knowing that when you are too sick to get out of bed, there is someone else in the house. It is the reassurance found in holding your mother’s hand while you are in labor: someone else has felt a similar pain and survived; you are not alone.
Jesus’ peace offers a secure identity where we know ourselves as the beloved children of God. Through the Holy Spirit, this peace blesses us with the perspective of knowing that we are never alone. When we hurt or fear, we can hold on to this peace without dismissing our emotions and know that God is still good.
God of peace, thank you for sitting with us. Help us to be aware of your presence in our lives. In all situations, grant us the blessing of perspective, knowing that we are never alone. Amen.
As we near the end of our Easter celebration, we begin to wonder: What do we do when the party is over? God meets us in this place of uncertainty by offering transformative blessings through this week’s readings—a word that grounds us in our God-given identity while calling us to a greater purpose in the world. This divine mystery asks us to hold in tension the grace of God, who gives us gifts we do not earn, and the call of God toward action. Psalm 67 bestows on us the blessing and call of God’s radiance. John reminds us of the blessing of peace and the call of integrity. The conversion of Lydia in Acts invites us to create space for mysterious interplay between the divine and human action. Revelation reminds us of the blessing of life and reconciliation. Holding all these things is made possible through the Holy Spirit, who plays a prominent role in many of the readings this week.
Read Psalm 67. How do I radiate the blessing of God? How do I share this light and experience the brilliance of others?
Read John 14:23-29. Think of a time when you were able to hold peace and pain together. How did you recognize the Spirit’s presence with you?
Read Acts 16:9-15. What does it mean to you to be sent by the Holy Spirit?
Read Revelation 22:1-5. How do you experience the blessing of living water? Who do you believe is beyond saving? How do you think of them in light of the blessing of reconciliation promised in Revelation 21 and 22?
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