John 20:19-23 (NRSV)
Verse 19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Verse 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Verse 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Verse 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
I should not have been surprised, yet was caught off guard by the call from the local Red Cross. Years ago, the congregation had agreed to be an emergency shelter for community residents in case of a natural disaster emergency. Now the river was rising due to above average rainfall and rapid snow melt. It was time for this community to step up and be the people we claim to be.
Action is an integral part of belief, an opportunity to put spiritual gifts and abilities to good use. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, faith in action becomes a personal and community activity. Jesus invites action when he addresses his disciples, “Peace be with you,” and then adds, “just as the Father sends me, so I send you… receive the Holy Spirit.” We can be assured that God doesn’t ask us to do anything God is not willing to do, nor are we alone in our doing. In this commissioning act we are called to be God’s presence and peace wherever we are planted.
Gracious God, thank you for your gracious peace and for the assurance that you are beside us no matter what comes our way. Help us to be bearers of your peace and love. Amen.