“Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.” - John Wesley
Monday, September 16
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
The most common deﬁnition of “peace” is the absence of armed conﬂict or war. However, when Christians use the word “peace,” its meaning is grounded in a very speciﬁc biblical word: “Shalom.” This Hebrew word means much, much more than a lack of conﬂict. “Shalom” is taken from the root word “shalam,” which means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” The biblical uses of the word have personal, national, and universal levels of meaning.
On a personal level, shalom refers to a state of inward wholeness and tranquility, which encourages us to treat others with generosity. In Israel today, when you greet someone or say goodbye, you say, Shalom. You are literally saying, “may you be full of well-being” or, “may health and prosperity be upon you.” A nation gifted with shalom not only experiences a lack of war with other nations; its people possess a shared health and prosperity.
However, shalom also describes the creation as God desires it to be. It is the cosmic order ordained by God and sought by God’s covenant with Abraham and through Christ. In other words, if human beings were to seek God’s desires (care for themselves, one another, and the earth), the creation would discover true shalom. In this cosmic order each person, animal, and object ﬁnds its meaning and function as it conforms to God's vision for us.
Therefore, when Christians share “the peace of Christ” during Holy Communion, it is our way of saying “may you ﬁnd the completeness that comes from being in right relationship with God and everyone in your life, which is made possible through Jesus.”
If unity has to do with how we get along with one another, and constancy refers to staying connected to God, then peace is the state of wholeness, harmony, security, and tranquility which results from living in unity in the Christian community and abiding in a living relationship with God.
Given this deﬁnition of peace, how do the following phrases sound to you now: to rest in peace, to hold your peace, make peace with someone, to keep the peace?
How might understanding this deﬁnition of “peace” change how you experience the “passing of the peace” before Holy Communion?
Which aspect of peace would you most like to receive as a gift from God: wholeness, harmony, security, or tranquility? What is it about that particular gift that makes it appealing to you?