“Jesus stood among them (the disciples) and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”(John 20:19b)
Peace is a rare commodity these days. I often hear folks, literally wishing they could go back to the 1950s. A time, many claim to be the last time things were good, simpler, and everyone got along. A time when churches filled and expansion projects planned. With World War II won, most leaned into a future they believed held only peace and prosperity.
But, if we really examine our history, there has never been a time without conflict, even the ’50s. It held its own divisions and fears, which left an imprint on the lives of the youth during that time. Defining moments shaping our memories of the present and expectations for the future.
I was too young to remember the oil crises, but I did carry with me the weight of the Cold War, the fear of the Soviet Union, and the underlying threat of nuclear missiles aimed at the USA.
My mother tells of the Bay of Pigs invasion and remembering as a child, neighbors with bomb shelters in their basements. Korea and Vietnam shaped the generations in-between.
I distinctly remember the day in college when the Berlin Wall came down; the relief and hope I felt that maybe this was the beginning of something new, a life without threat. Peace.
After the earthquake devastated Haiti, the president of the Lutheran Church in Haiti, offered an alternative response to their defining moment of destruction. He testified to new life by saying the following, “We will not be defined by rubble, but by restoration, for we are a people of the resurrection.”
As human beings, negative words, images of destruction, and forces of hate easily draw our attention. Yet, to give us perspective, we need to remember our walk with Jesus into Jerusalem and all that unfolded that Holy Week.
Literally, the worst this world could do, we did: torture, rejection, betrayal, false testimony, abandonment, and a sentence of violent capital punishment on the cross. All because we were afraid, disappointed, threatened or desired to stay in power.
But, on the third day, God said “no” to all this rubble. God raised Jesus from the dead. And, the first words Jesus shared with the disciples, “Peace be with you” sent them out with a new vision for this world; a vision of new life, reconciliation, and peace.
This is my prayer and hope for us, especially our soon-to-be graduates. I pray we would go out into this world as Easter people; people of restoration and resurrection.
People who have witnessed the chaos of this time, but choose to say “no” to the rubble and “yes” to Jesus’ way of restoration, forgiveness, and new life.
Yes, I pray future generations will no longer be defined by what they fear, but by what we restore in this world God so loves.
The Rev. Lori C. Morton pastors at First Lutheran Church, Sandpoint.