For church last Sunday, I went to the traditional Lutheran service. The service focused on John 20:21-23, in which the risen Christ interacts with his disciples. The passage states:
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
The children’s part of service was about how God sends us out to forgive others, and God’s Spirit goes with us. When we find that we have difficulty forgiving others, God will hopefully remind us that God has forgiven us, and that will motivate us to forgive others.
The pastor’s sermon offered additional thoughts. The pastor talked about the excuses that we have for not performing the mission that God has given us: I can’t speak in front of people; I am not good at caring for people; I don’t want to talk to people. The pastor said that many of us do not want to give up doing what we want to do, when we want to do it. He also offered suggestions of things that we can do: we can give people a ride to church; we can talk to the person sitting by himself or herself at coffee hour; we can sit with those who come to church by themselves, since coming to church alone can be difficult.
The pastor then went on to say that following rules can only get us so far. He noticed that Jesus first said “Peace be unto you.” The pastor acknowledged that this was a standard greeting in that day, but he believed that there is something deeper going on here. According to the pastor, Jesus came to bring shalom. I think where he was going with this is that we need to recognize God’s love for us first, and that can motivate us to love others. We also need for God to bring shalom to our lives.
I’ll just leave it at that.