The Upper Room Devotion for Tuesday, September 26, 2023, was written by S. Thevanesan of New York.
19 When 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.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
John 20:19-23 NRSV
Early in my childhood my mother introduced me to a fearless Jesus; who dared to care for others and to speak against evil, violence, and injustice. In today's reading from John, the risen Christ greeted the disciples and empowered them with his presence. He said to them, "Peace be with you!"
When Jesus came as the Prince of Peace, he taught us that only by working for justice in our communities and our world can conflict and discord be transformed into harmony. Jesus built bridges across racial divides and attempted to connect all people. He dreamed of forming one global family - the kindom of God.
We need a deeper spirit of understanding among all persons if we are to demonstrate real and lasting peace. We establish peace on earth and goodwill to humankind by our acts of love. When we give what we can to those in need, we share the good news of the Prince of Peace with the world.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
S. Thevanesan's reflection challenges us to ask ourselves: How are we working to bring peace and harmony to a divided world? It might seem too large a task to bring peace and harmony to our world, however, we can work to bring peace to our families and harmony to our communities. As we endeavor to heal long festering familial wounds, gone unattended, we can experience the transforming power of forgiveness. As we work to broaden and expand our concept of community, we can experience the joy inducing power of hope. God has not asked, nor does God expect, that our efforts will bring instantaneous results. Rather, God recognizes our consistent committed steps toward healing, forgiveness, harmony, and resolution will plant the seeds of peace. I invite you to consider ways you can be a bringer of peace and harmony to those who cross your path today.
Loving God, fill our hearts with peace, contentment, and courage as we work to build your kingdom. We pray as Jesus taught us, saying, "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation" (Lk. 11:2-4, NIV). Amen.