Sharing peace

My friend Joyce has recently visited ‘her’ puffins on the East coast. Here’s a glimpse of what she saw.

We meet in his name and share his peace.

Joyce has captured a moment of ecumenical unity in the bird world.
The puffins are gathered with the razorbills, sharing a common rock.
It could almost mirror a religious gathering.
At least two of the puffins are engaged in leading the hymns, or perhaps even an Anthem.
One of the birds may have tried to avoid the sermon by burying its head in the rock.

However you view it, there is a sense of harmony, a coming together in fellowship.

The longing for peace is at the heart of all religions. Sharing peace together is one of the joys of worship. It is more than a nod of greeting. In the Jewish faith, Shalom expresses something far deeper. It is “a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being, and harmony.” These are all the things we hope for each other and which we are to strive for.

In order for our ‘peace’ to be real and authentic it must begin in our hearts and it must come from God through us and others. So respect for each other is essential if our care and love is to grow. In the eyes and heart of God we are all equal. Followers of Jesus Christ are encouraged to follow a rule of St. Benedict which bids us to see Jesus in all we meet. We are all made in God’s image and likeness.

In the Muslim faith this is understood by the greeting Muslims use on meeting. As-salamu alaikum.
This greeting recognizes the worth of the other because they are important. The greeting receives the response Wa alaikum assalaam, and upon you be peace. One of the values of this is that it helps bind Muslims together as one family and also establish strong relationships with each other.

The Christian Greeting Joyce has chosen for her little ones on the rock is a central moment in the Eucharist, often called Holy Communion. That itself tells us that, together, we are gathered with our Lord Jesus Christ and because we are in communion (fellowship, with Him we are drawn to each other. We express this in The Peace.This greeting often includes the words Joyce has chosen : We meet in his name and share his peace.
Again, this roots our relationships with each other in the Peace Jesus gives to us. We may wave and smile but it goes much deeper. A word for our fellowship is Koinonia and it has a meaning that we are all drawn into a fellowship not only with each other but, and most importantly, with God. The Spirit of God fills our hearts and in so doing calls us into a ‘holy’ fellowship. Holiness, God’s gift to us, enfolds us  into the very being and love of God. When we are ‘holy’ we belong to God and to each other and we are filled with God.
We meet together in His name and share His peace and His love. We are to shine with it.

So why is it, then, that Mr Putin, a supposed Christian, and those who are led astray by him cannot practice this?

There may be a clue in these thoughts by Lao-Tze, a Chinese philosopher of the 6th Century BC. It applies to Putin and to all who are destroying Ukraine; and to the Taliban who are destroying the women of Afghanistan; and the leaders of Israel & Palestine who destroy each other. And it applies to us because war and violence begin much nearer home.

It’s a long time since 6th century BC but we can pray these words and apply them to our world today, starting with ourself.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

(Lao-Tse – 6th Century BCE)

[Mr G]

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