Rest in the mercy of God

Jesus came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near… (Ephesians 2)
I wonder how far we are from feeling such peace? With over 12 million Australians in lockdown, and concerns for friends and family overseas, there are many for whom anxiety is an unwelcome travelling companion. Where does our faith sit in times such as these?
Sometimes we think of peace as essentially an absence of conflict, but the peace being spoken of here is a reconciling peace – the kind that brings healing and wholeness, breaking down walls that divide and bringing us home to ourselves and one another. One thing anxiety can do is lead us to reinforce walls in an effort to protect ourselves while we project our fears on to others. The first step in peace is not to try to address the divide between ourselves and others but to begin to notice the barriers within our own being. Everyone has within themselves qualities that are awkward or negative which tend to rise to the surface in difficult times. The task, once we recognise it, is to show kindness, exercise great gentleness and to be, as John O’Donohue puts it, “a loving parent towards your own delinquent qualities”. 
Christ has created peace in himself, and sets about reconciling the world by living within the hearts of his followers, inviting us into the life of God where all of our “delinquent qualities” are forgiven and redeemed. In these anxious times, people who have experienced the gentle mercy of God are a light-filled presence amongst those who are sad, lonely, anxious, or unable to forgive themselves.
These days are an invitation to rest in the mercy of God, develop the practise of compassion and live into the freedom and self-enlargement which are the fruit of the reconciling work of Christ.
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest.” As we take on the way of Jesus, may we experience the peace of accepting all of our selves and creating a space of forgiving, generous hospitality for all who come, worn down by the many troubles of the world.
Grace and peace,

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