I’ve been doing some worship planning for the summer, and working with some themes of spirituality, discernment, and especially prayer. Then I came back to this week’s lectionary gospel reading. It’s again from the section of John that takes place at the last supper—a discourse from Jesus that is 5 chapters long! The writer has collected all these sayings that he considers to be vitally important to a church that will live on after Jesus has gone, including this:
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. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ [from John 14]
These words hit me: “I am going away, and I am coming to you.”
As I’ve been pondering our inner, personal spiritual lives, it occurs to me that this is exactly our experience of God. The going and the coming.
Often, we are overjoyed at the coming of God in a bright spring day in Kentucky, in a meal eaten with a loved one, in a sense of peace.
Perhaps just as often we are confused and dismayed by the going of God. What happened to God’s presence when the diagnosis came, or the loved one has gone, or the joy has gone out of living, or we watch the news about one more horrible act or tragic accident?
I think John wants the Jesus followers to know that, even in our sense of the grave absence of God, there is still the possibility of inner peace.
Peace may be found in presence, in the coming of God. But it may also be found in absence, in God’s going.
It may be found in waiting, hoping, longing, desire. It may even be found in anxiety, fear, and loss.
Peace is found in the faith that going is not the final act of a Christ who has promised to come to us yet again.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2013