As I was doing a little bit of straightening in my office yesterday, I found an old notebook that I'd started to use some years ago with the word "Ideas" written in sharpie on the cover.
The notebook was full of random thoughts, lists, and a detailed description (including sketches) outlining the concept for a Children's Sunday morning program.
That program idea was actually really stinking awesome, but I never got to see it fully realized.
Buried among all of those random thoughts was a series of notes I took at a conference, including one that had the words "Grief Storyteller" at the top. I was intrigued by this, and kept reading.
I found myself suddenly floored when I read the following question that I'd written down:
"How do we deal with the shattering of Shalom---when we feel broken and not good enough?"First, I was absolutely struck by the words "the shattering of Shalom." Shalom is a Hebrew word that is often used as a greeting or to simply bid someone farewell. But it's more than a pleasantry... far more.
Shalom is the very peace of God on earth. When Shalom is present, it means that God's presence, God's peace is present---that God gets what God wants. There is a desire inherent in the concept of Shalom for the world to be set to rights.
It's when God wipes away all tears... there is no more war... no sickness... no hatred... nothing but Shalom... everywhere. Jesus talked about this more than anything else during his ministry. He referred to it as the coming "kingdom of God," but it meant the same thing.
So what happens when there is a shattering of Shalom inside of us? It's when our world crashes in on us... when peace eludes us... when we find ourselves lost, alone and afraid... when we realize that the world is out of joint, and so are we.
It's when a global pandemic brings fear, disease and death. It's when we find ourselves hiding behind masks, afraid to trust what we are hearing from our leaders, from the news media.
It's when we begin to move our focus away from caring for each other, defeating a common enemy, and begin pointing fingers, blaming, and vilifying those who disagree with us.
What do we do when Shalom is shattered? We give up.
You see, in order for Shalom to be present there must be a willingness to surrender, to give up my own needs for the sake of a sister or a brother---even ones I don't even know.
Shalom requires vulnerability as well---the risk of being known, of being seen in our flawed, struggling state. It's riskier than going to the grocery store wearing yoga pants and no makeup... (although our masks cover a lot of ills)... or baggy shorts and flip flops...
It means that we come clean about our frailty, and admit that we walk with a limp. Shalom requires this kind of humility. It creates space for grace. It makes room for the kind of sacrificial love that is needed for the light to pierce the darkness and bring hope to those who are hopeless.
And you can do this. You can pick up the shattered dreams of Shalom within your heart, and offer them to the One who knows intimately how to put them back together again.
This will awaken your calling, have no doubts. You will never be the same again once you experience the life-giving, resurrection bringing Shalom of God. You won't be able to sit in grief or lostness for very long---you will want to move.
And when you do, the footsteps you will be following will be those of the Eternal Christ, the Creative expressive Word of God, Emmanuel--God with us, Jesus himself. Jesus---who loves us right where we are, but loves us far to much to stay there.
May you feel this today in the depths of your soul, and may you rejoice at the coming of the peace of God. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.