On Sundays, at eleven:eleven downtown, Tom and I have been doing a lot of referencing to the concept of “Shalom” — most often translated as “peace,” but probably best understood as “peace, unity, wholeness of being, harmony.”
Shalom is what God wants for you and me and for all creation.
Years ago, I found what I think is the most beautiful summary of the biblical witness — from Genesis to Revelation (with all the historical books, prophets, wisdom literature, gospels, and letters in between) in a small book by Dr. Bernhard Anderson. I have used it often and still find it deeply meaningful. The full quote is rich, but I’ll limit it to one sentence:
“The Bible begins with Paradise Lost and concludes with Paradise regained. In between this prologue and this epilogue unfolds the drama of God’s entrance into the human struggle to win back the lost creation and to restore humanity to peace, unity, and fullness of life.”
In other words, the Bible begins with Shalom, which humanity subverted, and ends with a vision of Shalom restored. It is what Jesus breathed on the disciples after his resurrection. It is what Jesus bequeathed to his followers at his ascension. It is what Paul offered by way of introduction in each one of his letters. It is what the writer of Revelation held out as the final victory. It is the Church’s benediction to every witness of faith.
We’ve been misguided in understanding Shalom achieved through violence — that is not the way of God nor the witness of Jesus. We’ve been misguided in understanding Shalom achieved through exile, banishment, punishment, and abandonment of the other. Again, that is not the way of God nor the witness of Jesus. Shalom begins with grace, and grace’s invitation is always through love, and love reaches out to all — all creation including all humanity — offering restoration, healing, unity, peace, and fullness of life.
Shalom is the will of God. Shalom is the way of God lived out by Jesus. Shalom is our calling.
I hope you can join us as Tom and I continue our conversations on “Your Pandemic / Post-Pandemic Self” this Sunday as we’re “gonna get down and dirty with the resurrection” (I think this is how Tom said it last Sunday — unrehearsed!). But check out his blog response to my post here for further hints on some practical advice for living resurrected lives — even now!
I hope you are doing well, and I look forward to seeing you soon!
Here’s the link to Sunday’s eleven:eleven downtown: