4.28.14 "Peace Be With You!"

John 20:19-23 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

One of the most brilliant rays of sunshine that GOD blessed my life with was my Mom.   No matter what was happening in my life her words, smile, and touch made it all better.   That kind and gentle ray of sunshine went dark shortly after I graduated from college. Mom lost her battle with cancer. She did not go quietly in her sleep. Her illness was fraught with pain and suffering, physically for her, emotionally for those of us who watched helplessly. This was the first lost my immediate family had experienced and it was a doozy. Mom was the glue that kept the family together, our spiritual heart and soul. Her loss revealed cracks in what I had always thought was a rock solid family foundation.   Things would never be the same. We would all have to adjust to a new normal.

This is the only way I can relate to the way I believe the disciples must have felt in the aftermath of the loss of CHRIST.   They had to be traumatized beyond description, hiding, and living with this horrific loss absolutely scared to death they would be next.   But that’s where the story changes. The risen CHRIST appears leaving no doubt that HE is GOD and that death is not the end.   Things would never be the same. CHRIST established a new normal.

Though rocked to its core and changed forever my family’s foundation remained intact and, over time actually grew stronger. Slowly each of us began to recognize that GOD had been busy putting people and plans in our path that would see us through the storm long before the first cloud even appeared.   There would be more funerals and more storms, but in the midst of those times that followed there was also something else -- peace.   For those of us who believe, we know death is not the end. In today’s passage, the “peace” the risen LORD offered the disciples more than two thousand years ago is the same “peace” HE offers us today.   The grave is not the end. Life wins!!!

Gracious Heavenly FATHER thank you so much for rewriting the end of my Mom’s story and changing normal forever! She lives and we live because YOU live. Remind us when the storms come that we are no longer condemned but free to live in absolute joy and peace. In CHRIST’s Name we pray, Amen.

James L.