Watchword for the Day: He guarded his people as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32.10
“…and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear…”
The assigned gospel lesson from John this morning says it all. Later, toward evening, on the third day, the disciples huddled together. They feared what was outside. They feared who was outside. For good reason. With Jesus ‘gone’, they were the next target of the crowds, the Pharisees, Herod, and Pilate. If they did THAT to the leader, what would happen to them? The disciples created distance. They used their room as a barrier to protect themselves from danger.
We, too, largely sat in our houses and kept our doors locked out of fear today. For good reason. The virus could kill us or the ones we love. The virus could put us in the hospital. So, wisely, we keep our distance. We wear barriers to protect ourselves.
The theory of evolution tells us that fear keeps us alive. Beings that don’t experience fear don’t survive for long. Beings that experience too much fear miss out on a lot of fun things. Finding the balance is essential for our surviving and our thriving.
As often as I have preached this text with the conclusion that we should throw the doors open and live recklessly faithful lives, I pause today understanding the disciples fear differently. They valued their lives enough to protect them. They valued their possibility to further the Kin-dom of God enough to stay home. They locked the door and waited.
The famous picture of Jesus knocking at the door comes to mind. Jesus is knocking, but there is no door handle on the outside…only the person or people on the inside can let Jesus in. How pompous we are. We control the door. We control access. We control who comes in and under what circumstances.
Jesus appearance to the disciples upends our confidence. Barricade or not, Jesus enters. Invited or not, Jesus enters.
And when he does, Jesus says, ‘Peace…’ Jesus doesn’t say everything will be OK. Jesus doesn’t make promises. Jesus doesn’t admonish the disciples for their anxiety. Jesus simply looks at the fear, looks at the possibility, looks at confusion of his followers. He looks right past it, and says, “Peace.”
So, let there be peace tonight, tomorrow, Tuesday. Let there be peace in the hospitals where the sick and their families gather behind locked doors. Let there be peace in our homes as we settle in for the night. Let there be peace in our places of business as we calculate the effects of staying alive. Let there be peace in our politics in order to find harmonious solutions. Let there be peace between you and me, my neighbor and your neighbor, my neighborhood and your neighborhood.
Let there be peace tonight. Let it begin with us.
I love you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.