Vespers of Pascha (2019)

Peace be with you!

Those were the first words that the risen Lord spoke to His disciples when He came into their presence in the upper room as they hid in fear for their lives (John 20:19-25).

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We can imagine the strangeness of that scene and what was going through their hearts and minds.  On the one hand, He who had just been executed by crucifixion and buried, now stands in their presence and wishes them peace!  What kind of peace could they find in a world filled with terror, terrorism and torture?  On the other hand, they are seeing before them a dead man, or his ghost.  What peace can there be if the dead can walk into the room where they are hiding.  No place on earth is safe!

And again, on the one hand, Christ the person they professed as Lord and Master had been murdered, and they did nothing to protect or help Him.  In fact they all had fled from Him, and denied Him, denied they even knew Him, and abandoned Him, and one of them had in fact betrayed Him.  On the other hand, if Christ is alive, who should they fear more the people who killed Him or Christ who now is alive and can make Himself present no matter where they hide and pay them back for their failures?

The dead Christ’s appearance in their midst is a shocking sight, startling them right out of their despair, out of their failures, out of their fears – into a whole new set of fears!   And yes, at first they saw Him not as the risen Lord but as a dead man appearing to them!  This was probably a worse shock and fear then the people they hoped to keep outside of the locked room where they were hiding.

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And today, we the disciples of Christ find ourselves still threatened, still worried that people might want to kill us, and we see in Sri Lanka, Egypt, Pakistan and other places in the world our brothers and sisters in Christ are murdered because they are Christ’s disciples.

And we hear Christ’s words as He stands in our midst: “Peace be with you!

And we too wonder what kind of peace can a dead man, even a resurrected one grant us?  He doesn’t seem able to protect His followers for they have been martyred throughout history.  Fear takes hold of our hearts.

40675919665_f02e9a6c7d_nChrist did not choose His Twelve Disciples because He knew they would be perfect in their faith or in following Him or in doing all the right things.  In fact, the Gospels tell us He knew who He chose and how they would betray Him, deny Him and flee from Him in His hour of need.  Yet He still chose them.  He still came into their midst and wished them Peace.  It is His desire to save us all and unite us to our God, despite our sins and failings and fears.

He comes to us knowing our fears, faults, failures and foibles.  He grants us His peace.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”   (John 14:27)

How can we live without fear in this world?

Christ has chosen us to be His disciples.  He still relies on us, trusts us to accomplish His work on earth and promises that we will see greater things than even the Apostles themselves witnessed (John 1:50).

Christ says to us:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.  If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  (John 15:16-18)

And then He went on to say:

I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStrive to find the peace of Christ in your hearts,  Pray for the gift of the peace of Christ so that all fear will be driven from your life and that you might have good cheer despite the threats of the world and the courage to continue to do good and to do the godly thing even in the face of threats.

May the peace of God be with you.  May the God of peace be with you.

Christ is risen!

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