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Shalom

Let your Kingdom come!
Let your will be done also in the earth,
just as it is in Heaven –

Peace

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus was in the upper room with his disciples. He had just exposed Judas as a traitor, and was explaining to his followers that he would soon be leaving them. I can only imagine the shock they must have felt, the confusion, the disbelief, the fear. Here was the greatest rabbi, the greatest prophet, the greatest healer, the King of kings and Lord of lords, in their midst. They left everything behind to follow him, and they had just gotten started! And here he was saying his goodbyes.

Jesus understood though. He explained that yes, he was leaving, but one would come in his place, a comforter, the Ruach ha-Kodesh – the Spirit of Holiness. And one other thing he would leave them – shalom. Jesus said, “Shalom I leave you, my shalom I give to you.”

They didn’t know it at the time, but this promise of “shalom” is one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives. We don’t know it either, by the way.

We (and by “we” I mean westerners in general, but pretty much everyone else, too) don’t have any context for this word “shalom.” We may think of it as a Jewish word that simply means “peace” but when we say “peace” we mean the kids are asleep, or there’s no wars going on that we know of. The concept of “shalom” is foreign to us, but as Christians it should not be.

Our world, the western world, is not a world of shalom. We struggle and strive every day. We forsake the Sabbath to get or stay ahead. We have to have the newest, best, shiniest thing and we treasure those things to the extent that the Kingdom is just a nice idea and we hope to get there one day, but right now I have to get through rush hour so I can sit at a desk for 9 hours doing this thing that I don’t really like too much but hey, it keeps the lights on.

This is not how one who understands shalom lives life.

“My shalom I give to you.” Jesus’ parting, everlasting gift. We have no idea. We know what he went through getting to the cross, and as he hung there. We know what it was all about, or we think we do. But that gift of shalom before everything went down – it’s more precious than you know.

I have tried to understand it. Really I have. But my upbringing, my heritage, my history – they have prevented me from truly experiencing what Jesus left for me that day. A part of my inheritance is shalom! Yours too!

“My shalom I give to you.” What does that even mean? I have read, I have researched, I have prayed – for years. And finally, finally I discovered quite recently, after all my reading and praying for answers, that shalom is something that each person just has to experience. And I have experienced it! And it is wondrous and glorious and more than I could have every imagined. It’s that warm blanket on a chilly night. It’s the hug from someone you’ve loved dearly but been away from for a long time. It’s your kids yelling “daddy!” and running up to you when you get home from work. It’s heaven on earth! It is literally heaven on earth.

When Jesus said, “after this manner therefore pray ye” (because he was a Victorian English chap) he was telling his followers, us, to pray that God would reveal himself to us and set things right on the earth – he was telling us to pray that heaven would invade earth and make it the way it was intended to be. A place of shalom.

Earlier today I found this quote, and I am going to get the book it came from, but I share this hoping you get a sense of what shalom is all about – I hope you experience shalom, and I hope that in your life that things will be on earth as they are in heaven –

“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight – this is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

Shalom!

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