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"Peace be with you"

I am talking with a wise woman. I want to know, “How did you find the Easter services? Did you enjoy them?” You see, I’m a new minister. It’s my first Holy Week. I want everyone to like the services. I want everyone to like me. You see, I have an ego to protect.


“Oh,” she says, “they were fine. But it’s not really about what I like.”


The wise woman – an Elder in this congregation – understands something in the depth of her being that I am only just beginning to grasp. And that is that what really matters – above anything else – is our love for each other, and our love for our God. It matters more than a great song selection or articulate pray-ers; it matters more than dynamic preaching and a strong social media following. This love transcends all of that. “When I sing,” she reflects, “I sing above the music, over the heads of the people”. The song becomes more than words set to music, and becomes a love song. A song that can be sung with all of one’s being, with a heart that beats with love for God and neighbour.


I am beginning to appreciate the depth of love within the Murrumbeena Uniting congregation. It’s a love that seems to transcend our differences. We are a very diverse mob! We are made up of people that span the theological spectrum, and our community consists of people who vote Liberal, Labor, Green and probably everything else. And I haven’t even touched on the various football teams people go for. There are children who do not yet know the meaning of ‘talk quietly please’, and there are people in their 80s and 90s who really struggle to hear. Some people love the old hymns, others love contemporary music. We are so different!


We have different gifts: some of us are best at growing tomatoes and community connections, some of us gift the community by taking in the bins every week, some of us flip pancakes and some of us are dedicated to prayer. We are so very diverse! And I am beginning to see a divine grace that holds us all together; I am beginning to hear the love song that so many of us are singing, in some higher register above the words being sung.


This is the meaning of peace. When the resurrected Jesus stands amongst his disciples for the first time in the Gospel of John, he says, “Peace be with you”. Then he shows them his wounds. And he says, “Peace be with you” again. Jesus knew peace within the core of his being because he – like so many of us! – spent his life singing a love song. He gave up his own ego, his personal preferences, his need for power and dominion and control, so that he could sing that love song, and he sang it all the way to his death.


When we – in the name of love – die to our egos and our need for power, dominion and control, it enables peace. It enables peace in our lives, in our church, in our community and in the whole world. In a war-ravaged world, this death of our ‘old selves’, and the new life that follows, is the only way to peace.


May we, like the wise Elder, truly understand that “It’s not really about us”. And having dropped our egos, may we cultivate peace in our hearts and community, so it spreads throughout the entire world.

Words by Rev Andreana

Image by Image by amir appel on Flickr (Creative Commons licence)

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