For us today, we think of peace as the absence of war, as anytime there is not explicit violence. But for Jesus, peace meant much more than that. While this gospel is written in Greek, the word Jesus himself would have spoken was “Shalom,” in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Shalom means many things, including peace. But it also means Wholeness. Completeness. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Right relationships, with others and with God.
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We in our world today often hide from our brokenness. But there is a funny thing I have experienced through life. Whenever I have been the most broken in spirit, I have seen God more present in my life. I don’t think it is that God is trying harder in those times. God’s always there. Rather, it is that I am finally taking notice of God, instead of thinking I can do it all on my own.
The apostle John tells us, “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” As Christians, our first step is to face racism. Face it in ourselves, in our stories. Face it in our history. Hear the voices of others. Read the parts of our history not always told in history textbooks.
We aren’t Christ. We aren’t the savior of this world. But people can see Christ’s love through you. People can see Christ’s grace through you. People can learn about forgiveness and mercy, welcome and love, God’s presence and peace and good news of grace through you.
So when someone asks you for a blessing, don’t look over your shoulder and say, “Who me? I could never do that.” Offer them what you have. Your time. Your ears. Your hands, Your words. Your faith. Go into those dark places with them. God will do the rest.
But all of us have nets that need to be dropped. Because all of us are called by Christ, all of us are called to be transformed.
When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, he didn’t go into that water because he needed to repent and be forgiven of his sins. He is God’s Son. Jesus went into that river so that we could follow, so that we could join in his life. So that we could join that dying to sin and evil and captivity, and be led into new life of true freedom and joy.
The lamps and oil Jesus speaks about in this parable are not fueled by fear, but by love. By welcome. By knowing the power of grace and the gifts of the Spirit.
The good news for today is that all of us have been invited to the best party ever. To the best celebration. Whether you have thought of yourself as in or out, good or bad, religious or non-religious, God wants you there. Christ has made a way. There is a seat waiting for you.
That yearning, that search for truth, that restless drive that there is something greater out there, it was just as alive and present 2,000 years ago as it is today. Paul met it when we arrived in Athens for the very first time.