On Sunday, more than twice as many people sent in apologies as showed up. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be comic. But we are surrounded by sickness, exhaustion and anxiety. Many of those who aren’t currently sick are worried about becoming sick, or sick again; while many of those who are sick are worried about the long term effects, as yet unknown.
And we’re sick of face masks, yet sick of people not wearing them; sick of absent teachers and sick of overflowing hospitals; sick of disruptions to work and family life. We’re sick of the politics, sick of the conversations, sick of RATs yet sick of denial. We’re sick of being anxious, both for ourselves but more especially for the vulnerable people we love. And of course we’re sick of being sick; indeed, we’re sick of it all.
It’s true that Jesus won’t magically fix the pandemic, nor will he keep us free from disruptions, infections or long Covid. But he does promise something which can help: the free gift of shalom, often translated as ‘peace’. Shalom, however, is much more than the absence of conflict. Instead, it’s more like what we think of as wellbeing, that is, as being in right relationship with God, self, other people, and the land. So today, in all our sickness, tiredness, and general fed-up-ness, I invite you to rest in Jesus’ promise and let the Holy Spirit minister to you.
1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.
2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.
Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them … The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Shalom I leave with you; my shalom I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:23, 26-27)
3. REFLECT: Allow a word, phrase or single image to speak to you. What do you notice? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.
4. RELATE: Now wonder: What helps you not be troubled? Are any other of Jesus’ words bubbling up in you? When do you experience shalom in this moment, this week, this lifetime?
5. RESPOND: Do you have any sense of invitation, comfort, challenge, or lament? Pray about this, and tell God about anything which is emerging. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you the next step.
6. REST: When you feel ‘done’, rest awhile. Savour the conversation you are having with God, and God’s loving presence. Close with a gesture of thanks: perhaps a simple bow. As you prepare to leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, let it guide you. Or if nothing in particular arises, remember this:
- My shalom I give you …
Tools for the Journey
If this post has helped you on your faith journey, please consider sharing it via social media so that others may read it, too. And please also consider making a financial contribution. We are a small young community seeking to equip people for their journey with Jesus Christ. Your contributions help keep us afloat.