Finding Wholeness and Shalom
Published by Aimee Johnson - Youth Co-Ordinator at St Mark's Lutheran Church, Dalby
Let us pray,
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Good morning, everyone, how are we this morning? Let’s do our thumb-o-meter.
Over camp, our theme for this year was Finding wholeness and Peace, which we investigated over the course of 5 days. We look at Peace, Sin, The Messiah, Atonement and Justice, individually. The campers and leaders took time each day to go through their studies and understand more about how Christ had restored our relationship with God through His death and resurrection, and how we can continue to have a whole and shalom relationship with Him today.
It was just incredible to watch each group explore this at their own pace, asking really good questions, and watch their faith grow more and more as the camp continued.
So, to get us into it. I am going to start off with some meditation which did on camp in the evening to get the campers ready for bed, a time where they could just relax and let the Holy Spirit led them.
I invite you to close your eyes, clear your mind, get a comfortable as you can in the chairs.
Let your mind go blank. Now imagining Jesus’ hands. Imagine the palms. The knuckles. The finger tips. What colour are they? Are they rough? Smooth? Well-groomed? Dirty? Inspect every detail of Jesus’ hands. Now, take Jesus’ hands in yours. What do they feel like? Are they warm? Cold? Soft? Tough? Imagine Jesus gripping your hand like a good friend or a close loved one would. How do your hands feel in Jesus’? Uncomfortable? Relaxed? Peaceful?
Now imagine shrinking. Imagine shrinking so small you can fit in Jesus’ hands. He picks you up and cradles you in his hands. What does it feel like to lie there in the wrinkles of his palms? Do you feel safe? Loved? Warm?
Imagine Jesus whispering to you. He quietly says, “I love you. This is where you belong. I love you. All of you.” He repeats this over and over and over. “I love you. This is where you belong. I love you. All of you.” How does it make you feel? Perhaps it is a message you are intimately familiar with. Perhaps you haven’t heard it in a while. Perhaps you have never heard it in your life. What feelings does it stir up? Gratitude? Peace? Communion? Maybe discomfort? Or even doubt? Is there a physical response you are having to this encounter? Warmth? Healing? What message do you think Jesus is trying to give to you?
Jesus sets you down and you begin to grow back to your usual size. He takes your hand and quietly says again to you, “I love you. This is where you belong. I love you. All of you.” you squeeze Jesus’ hand for one last time. As you separate for now, you slowly find yourself drifting back out of your imagination into the material world.
Open your eyes slowly, how did that experience make you feel? Did Jesus lead you anywhere, did he tell you anything? I hope you can hold onto those words, knowing that Jesus is always there for you, no matter what, whatever you have done, Jesus will always love you.
This small glimpse of meditation is something you can do every day, a way of you and God to connect, to know that you can come to him anytime as you have a whole and shalom relationship with him through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Now, you may have heard the word Shalom being used this morning, which in English means peace. We investigated this on the first day, allowing the campers to understand what this whole and shalom relationship looked like in the Garden. They looked at different meanings of Shalom which included, as it was created to be, absence of conflict, in harmony with others, in right relationship with God, completeness, the state of righteousness or ‘rightness’, perfection, a condition in which nothing is lacking, and the state of Perfect well-being. Which one resonates with you the most? (pause) I think for myself, would be, “as it was created to be”. God created us as very good, perfect in His image and nothing can take that away from me. How incredible is that and He never gave up on us, He continued to pursue us, from when it started in the Garden.
In Genesis 1:26-31 the campers reflected on how it was in the garden, how peaceful and prefect it was. In these verse mentions the sixth day that God created living creatures according to their kind. And then he created, Male and female, he created THEM. And what did he say, in verse 31, it was very good. We were not just good but very good, we were perfect in His image and still are. However, we wanted to be more like God, wanting to know good and evil, though, God tried to protect us from us. But we did it, anyway, allowing sin to enter our lives and take over us.
So, on day 2, we investigated this a little more and what Sin is, which is to fail or miss the goal, mark or target. In Romans 6:6, it states, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, [a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” And in Romans 7:15-16, it states the battle we have between our self-desires and the desires of Christ. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.” When we fail to love people, ourselves, and nature, we fail to love God, our deepest desires are selfish BUT we have hope, a saviour, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He didn't fail to love God, he did not SIN. He brought life. In 1 peter 2:22-24 it states, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” Wow. Jesus was our sacrifice, the Lamb of God. If God wanted to get rid of Sin, he would have to get rid of us, but he didn’t. Way back in the garden where we first sinned, God never wanted to just leave us there, He had a plan, a plan that would restore the shalom back into humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ came to restore wholeness back to humanity and God. We now have access to Shalom with God through Christ who was our sacrifice. Peace with God is to be in complete and wholeness with Him - just like a stone, a stone which is Whole and Complete - no cracks or breaks but whole and perfect, one of those smooth rocks you find to skim across the water. Hundreds of years ago this promise was made, and they had to wait until Christ came to be the Prince of Peace, but we don’t have to wait, we have already gained access to this Shalom with God through Christ’s Blood.
During our Worship night, we investigated this more personally. Looking inside, inside ourselves to uncover the sin that was in our lives. We asked this question to the campers, what is your roadblock to having a whole and shalom relationship with God? So, I ask you now, what is your roadblock.
Mine is not being worthy enough, not being enough for people. I never had a lot of self-confidence and love for me, with all the social media professing this and that, I never thought I was good enough for Christ’s love. But as time has gone on, I have found joy and love knowing what lengths God went to, to save me and you. He sent his Son who died for us but didn’t just leave it there, He also rose again. Through both His death and resurrection, we are restored to a whole and Shalom relationship with God. We can overcome the sin in our lives because of Jesus, meaning we can have Shalom with God through the cleansing of His Blood.
So, I finish with the words from Romans 5:
“1So Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Amen