March 28, 2021 | Jim Cochrane
Editor's Note: This year’s Lenten Devotional from Presbyterians Today invites us to reflect upon the gift of Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace:
“In the Bible, shalom can be translated not only as peace, but also as tranquility, security, well-being, health, welfare, completeness, and safety.” The writer goes on to encourage, “How can we each receive this gift of shalom and, in turn, bestow it upon the world?”
On this journey, we’ve come through 33 days and 5 Sundays since Ash Wednesday, when we reflected on “we are dust and to dust we shall return.” Now we arrive at Holy Week beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his death on a cross, and the joy of his resurrection. This process reminds us that in Christ, God was reconciling the world.
In the aforementioned devotional, Ivy Lopedito, Christian Brooks, and Donna Frischknecht Jackson highlight one way forward:
“As we journey through Holy Week, think of hurts, grudges, and hatred that need to be nailed to the cross and laid to rest in a tomb. Think about the healing power of reconciliation and where you have seen it in your life.”
Join us this week as we consider all these things and seek God’s presence on our journey.
About the Author: Jim and his wife Kim have been members of ZPC since 1990. Jim has served as an elder, on Mission Commission, and as a Sunday School teacher. He is retired, enjoys sports, reading, and traveling with Kim.
Today’s Scripture: Genesis 33:3,4
He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
In the Old Testament Isaac, the son of Abraham, has twin sons named Esau and Jacob. Jacob, barely the younger of the two, steals Esau’s birthright and blessing through an inventive piece of trickery (check it out in Genesis 27) but has to flee the family in order to avoid Esau’s wrath.
That brings us to today’s scripture in which, after years of roaming and acquiring wives and wealth, Jacob is about to come face to face with Esau for the first time since he had fled for his life from the family. Jacob has a few options on how to play it here. He can turn and run and continue to avoid conflict with his brother or he can confront Esau in a belligerent manner. Instead, Jacob chooses to totally humble himself before his brother by bowing seven times. Jacob holds the birthright and the blessing but chooses to become the humble servant and the end result is peace in the family. This, of course, is greatly reinforced in the New Testament when we study the actions and impact of Jesus Christ.
The lesson here is that shalom (peace, tranquility, well-being, completeness) starts with true humility.
Please help me recognize those situations requiring humility in my life. Make me aware of my role as a servant to others. Help me guard against false humility.