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Spiritual matters

Jesus provides example on dealing with each other

May 04, 2011 - My mother taught me so much. Things like, be yourself, do your best, love forgives, always wear clean underwear, and share with others.

A story that could be true of any of us…One rainy spring day a woman was shopping with her young daughter. She was very busy and had many errands to run. The crowds and traffic were terrible, so they had to skip lunch to get everything done.

Towards the end of the long day the woman was tired and hungry, her feet were aching, and she was more than a little irritable. As they left the last store to finally head for home, the woman turned and said offhandedly to her daughter, "Could you believe the nasty look that salesman gave me?"

Without skipping a beat her young daughter innocently answered, "Mommy, he didn't give that nasty look to you. You already had it when you went in." Knowing the young girl was right, the woman paused, said a silent prayer, gave her daughter a hug, and said, "Thanks, I really needed that!"

Like it or not, intentionally or unintentionally, carefully or carelessly, we share what we have with others. Whether we are aware of it or not, what we do has an impact on our world and on those around us "for better or for worse." Every time we encounter another human, no matter who they are or what their position is, we have an opportunity to build up or tear down. Wherever we go we can share joy, peace, hope and love, or we can sow irritation, anxiety, frustration, and despair.

I know all of this because my parents taught me. But sometimes I act like I don't really get it or seem to care. Life can be very difficult and yet in the midst of all things I really want to build others up and share goodness.

Often it is in the little things and in the common everyday experiences that we have our greatest impact – and our kids, and others, do watch what we do more carefully than we are usually aware.

In Bible times I can imagine Jesus' disciples and others watching him very carefully to see how he handled things – how he treated people along the journey of life. Was he consistent? How did he deal with interruptions? How did he handle those different from him? How did he react to those who made mistakes? What did he really care about most? How did he share his love and amazing grace with those he met? What did he do when we was tired?

After Easter Jesus appears to his disciples a number of times and shares with them the miracle of his resurrection. Because it was so amazing they were always startled by his presence (Luke 24:37) or they didn't recognize him (Luke 24:14). And almost always Jesus' first words to his friends were, "Peace be with you."

What wonderful opening words they are and they helped. I long for that peace in my life too. They are words I need to hear today in the midst of the ups and downs of my life. I believe Jesus shares that same peace with me, and because of that I can approach each day with a fresh start and a kind heart.

Following Jesus' example I wonder how our days would be different if we greeted each new morning and each encounter with another person with the words and actions that communicate, "Peace be with you." That is what I really want to share with others, and with God's help I really can.

The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church

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