By Pastor Pam Seebach
Harmony, Mabel, and Newburg United Methodist Churches
Recently, someone said to me that we need to pray for the people in Ukraine. True! We held a prayer service in Mabel with Ukraine and its people as the focus. But, as I planned the service, my ears and heart were caught by multiple reports on the radio of other war-torn areas of the world. People are fighting for scarce resources, for power, for religious reasons, and for reasons we may never understand. Where is this peace for which we pray?
In John, chapter 20, Jesus visits the disciples after his resurrection. The disciples have locked themselves in a room because they fear the Roman authorities will arrest and kill them as they did Jesus. Jesus appears there, undeterred by the locked door, and his first words to them are: “Peace be with you.” In the United States, particularly in Fillmore County, it’s easy to feel peace – sure, we have struggles, but most of us are not running for our lives. I imagine the people of Ukraine, South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, and all the other war-torn areas would love to hear those words: Peace be with you.
The fact is the Roman authorities did not disappear when Jesus rose from the grave. The guns will not cease firing instantly in this world. The poor will not magically have enough to eat, and the marginalized people will not suddenly find themselves on equal footing with the majority, much as we would like these instantaneous improvements to take place. Peace, that illusive quality, more likely will be found inside ourselves. When Jesus came to the disciples, hidden away from the dangers of Roman-ruled society, he breathed the Holy Spirit on them, giving them the power to overcome their fears. But Thomas wasn’t there with them. We don’t know exactly where Thomas was – perhaps he was “going it alone’ as many of us do when we’re scared, sad, or overwhelmed. So, Thomas didn’t receive the breath of Holy Spirit like the others. But when Jesus made a return appearance a week later and invited Thomas to touch and see for himself how real Jesus was, Thomas believed. Thomas found peace by believing. Recognizing that he didn’t have to “go it alone” anymore, Thomas found peace.
This same peace is available to you, to me, and to anyone when we invite Jesus Christ to walk with us, and to guide our lives. Jesus will be with us through all our struggles – grief, loneliness, danger, poverty, illness, whatever. We can find peace in our hearts and minds with Him. Let us pray that the peoples of the world who are facing danger will find the peace of Christ in their hearts and minds. And let us continue to pray that the leaders of the countries of this world will find a way to forge civil peace and stop the destruction of war.