SCRIPTURE: John 14:27-29
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
Geoffrey M. St. J. Hoare shares his insight that “Freedom from anxiety is directly related to our putting our whole trust in God’s grace and love, which becomes possible as we remember that love created us for love…. Most families know what it is like to be at a family gathering wondering whether great aunt ‘so-and-so’ will have too much to drink or uncle ‘whoosit’ will have one of his ‘spells.’ In the same way, most families know how everyone calms down when father gets home from work or when mother steps in and takes charge. The capacity to be non-anxious helps others to calm down as well. This is not unlike what happens in the presence of God or in a time of peace that is not as the world gives. We see this reality at work in the ministry of the risen Jesus. Consider that occasion after the resurrection when the disciples were afraid and gathered behind locked doors. ‘Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’’ (20:19). Jesus was and is the non-anxious presence of God.”
Being a non-anxious presence in our world right now can be especially challenging in the midst of this pandemic. There is still so much unknown, so many hearts and minds are filled with unrest, so much tension. But as Hoare points out using the words of verse nineteen (not included in our reading for today), “Jesus was and is the non-anxious presence of God.” As Christians, I believe that we are also called, as a way of living into the life that Jesus lived, to be non-anxious presences for others. When we follow the examples of Jesus, put our faith completely in God, and pray for the strength and guidance to be those non-anxious presences, that is another way we can be living witnesses of God’s love to the world.
Name the anxieties that are troubling you right now. They probably include some things that are connected to the pandemic we are in right now, but they are not limited to that reality. Now imagine yourself handing them over to Jesus and receiving his peace. Take a few moments every day, at the beginning or end, or somewhere in the middle to do this exercise and see how it affects your frame of mind and sense of spirit.
Loving God, help us to release our anxieties about the future, especially this time in the pandemic, and to rest in your care. Thank you for the peace that passes all understanding. May we also be calming and peaceful presences for others in our lives and in the world. Amen.