In many churches, there is an element of worship called “passing the peace.” Those sitting nearby may shake your hand, speak a word of peace, share the peace sign, or (if you’re especially close) offer a kiss. The expression, “passing the peace,” conjures up images in my head of sprinkling a little peace on our friends, like we would shake salt or pepper onto our food. If only it were that easy! People would be lined up in grocery stores, scarfing up boxes of peace from the shelves, just in time for the holidays.
Through the next few months, the yard lay seeded and covered in straw, eventually hidden under a heavy blanket of snow. We wondered if anything could survive the cold and harshness of our northwest Ohio weather. By spring, we were thrilled to see tiny green shoots begin to resemble a lawn. The mystery plants near the house turned green again. Everything survived!
The graduation cards read, “Good Luck! You did it! Congratulations on your outstanding effort! You’re going to go far! Reach for the stars! Insert money here.” I was hoping to find something a little more heart-warming and perhaps God-honoring.Yes, it takes effort for most students to get good grades. And some graduates have worked very hard to pass all their classes in good standing. But have we thought about our God-given gifts and abilities? The brains He blesses us with? The wisdom, guidance, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit as we’ve “burned the midnight oil”? OK, maybe I should write greeting cards … or at least find another place to shop.
Several women commented, but no one could explain the reason that the day of Jesus’ horrific suffering could possibly be called good. One woman was so intrigued that she discussed the Bible story with her family at dinner that night. She went to her computer to search for the meaning of Good Friday. She printed an answer, brought it back to the group of women, and reported, “Good Friday is the day on which Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And that is good for us.”
Over the next few days, there were many questions about that door. Why is it there? Where do the things go? Why don’t they come back again? I showed him that the dirty clothes fall into a box near the ceiling of the basement; I open a door on the box and pull out the pieces, I explained, and then I wash everything. He wanted to help pull out the items, and was especially excited at finding some of his own clothes there. Then he asked, “Why can’t I see where it goes? Where’s the other part? Why is it dark?”
Recently I attended a women’s retreat at a campground in the northern part of lower Michigan. The trees were just beginning to turn; as we drove further north, the display of color became more and more amazing. Here and there red leaves and pink, yellows and gold, and brilliant orange peeked out among the greens. As I gazed on the beauty around me, I was appreciative of our Creator God. Then it started to rain.
Light splashes here and there on the windshield became a steady drizzle, then a downpour. Gray clouds turned dark, and fog rolled in as the temperature began dropping. We could no longer see the color because of the darkness. It was still raining when we arrived at camp, and the ground was turning to muck. I thought of the umbrella hanging in my closet at home, and was glad I had packed a hooded, all-weather jacket.