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.
Easter is not the end. It is the beginning. It is the beginning of a long journey of faith and discovery – of who we are as redeemed by Christ, of who God is as savior and king and destroyer of death, and of what salvation looks like, not just in the life to come, but here in our world today.
On that cross, two thousand years ago, God lost a son. As the centurion said after Christ’s final breath, “Truly, this man was God’s son.” God’s son died. And Patrick’s words remind me that we don’t serve a God who punishes us with pain, but a God who enters into that pain with us. We serve a God of such extreme freedom and possibility that God was willing to give up a child so that we may be reunited in love
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.
And the same is for us in prayer. Our daily lives are filled with so much noise and worries and thoughts, we barely pay attention to the present moment we are in. We don’t notice the smells, the sounds, the sights that are around us. We miss people and conversations. We miss the gift that I am alive and this day did not have to be.
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.
Jesus quickly corrects him. With this act, Jesus is telling Peter and all of us, I came for those who are outside of God’s love. I came for the forsaken. I came for the cursed. Jesus came as God for the Godless.
Today is the first Sunday in Lent. And throughout Christian history, this has been a season of preparation. It is a season that we prepare our hearts and minds and spirits to meet the good news of Easter Sunday.
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.
God sees in each one of these children, people who are meant to fly, who like Isaiah writes, are meant to soar like eagles.