Not as the World Gives
by Ken Dale
We are just two weeks from the next big day on the Christian liturgical calendar ? Pentecost. Already the scriptures are pointing to that gift of God we call the Holy Spirit. In our brief lesson from John?s gospel this morning Jesus speaks of the Advocate or helper ? the Holy Spirit who will teach and remind us of all that Jesus said. Then Jesus says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. That peace or shalom is not just the absence of conflict or trouble. Rather it means everything which makes for our highest good. Consider the words Jesus uses for that Holy Spirit. He speaks of teacher, reminder, advocate, helper, companion, and comforter. Doesn?t that word ?teacher? usually bring to mind one who both expects and sees the best in us? What characterizes our favorite teachers but those who establish a genuine caring relationship with us ? I can still name mine ? Mrs. Larkin in third grade, Mr. Grant in 8th grade and Dr. Thockmorton and Dr. Cook in seminary. They see the best in us, and encourage it to grow.
The Holy Spirit reminds us of who Jesus is and what Jesus taught both by word and example. The world saw Zacchaeus as a conniving tax collector. Jesus saw a person open to his love and the new life that love offered him. The world sees Peter as a man of flimsy faith but Jesus saw him as the foundation for the church. The world saw a woman guilty of adultery and Jesus saw someone who could reclaim her life.
Do we ever wonder what Jesus sees in each of us ? are we willing to ask ourselves ?what does Jesus see when he looks at me?? Remember ? it is one who expects and sees the best that is in us. Jesus says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you ? not as the world gives do I give to you. Those are part of the final words shared when we take communion into the homes of shut-ins. I remember many years ago in a former church ending sharing the sacrament with those words, and this elderly woman named Doris, every time I said them would follow with, Those are such beautiful words aren?t they??And they are ? they are life giving words in many ways. It is that peace which we pass with each other in worship ? that which sees the best in each?other and encourages it to grow. Not as the world gives. May we be mindful of that when we share it!
I worked with a hospice family one time and I remember the couple celebrated a lifetime together ? their relationship began when they were both in junior high school, they were married and raised a family. One of them captured their relationship with each other saying that he always sought whatever was best for her and she always sought whatever was best for him ? and they never fought.
In the opening of this brief passage Jesus says, Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. In our life together as church I often hear people speak of ?home? as they speak of church, this church in particular. We could have fun with that, knowing what a diverse experience of ?home? we may each share. But today as we receive new people into our church family ? people willing to enter into that covenant with us ? may we be intentional about that peace which we share.
As God in Christ sees the best in us, so may we seek to see the best in each other ? and encourage it to grow. As our closing hymn sings ? Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love ? the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.