“Peter,” he said, “this is not the way.”
Maybe like me, you’re still trying to wrap your mind around what happened this past Wednesday at our Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Images keep replaying in my mind. My emotions change from moment to moment, and I’ve realized this is now just another layer of grief to add on to the many other layers brought on during the last nine months of pandemic we’ve endured. Maybe like me, you’re not processing only your grief, but also walking beside and helping the tiny people God has entrusted in your care to process as well.
I’m exhausted and I’m weak from all these emotions, and words were hard to formulate as I was trying to explain to my three children what was unfolding in our country. If there’s one good gift (and there are many more) that I’ve discovered during this wilderness season of life is that when I am weak, God is strong, an ever-present help when I call on Him. So, the morning after the Capitol attack I asked God, “What do I say? What is your way Lord, your response?” And then God reminded me of a garden.
I’ve been reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to my children since they were infants. The stories, the words, the illustrations have been not only seeds planted in my children’s hearts but seeds in my heart as well, so I wasn’t surprised when God brought one of the stories to my mind to help show me one answer to my question.
The scene began to play out, Jesus knowing what was about to happen, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his friends sleeping under the olive trees. An angry mob, with clubs and swords, approaches. Peter’s gut reaction was to protect and to fight, drawing a sword and slicing off the ear of a guard. And what was Jesus’ reaction, first to heal and make whole again the guard, then I picture him gently looking up into Peter’s eyes as he says, “Peter,” he said, “this is not the way.” (JSB).
As I sat with my children on the sofa reading this familiar story we talked through what is the way Jesus is showing us. A way of healing, a way of prayer, a way of peace. I contrasted that to the actions we were seeing play out in others around us.
How does God want us to respond and to act in the chaos around us? What way did Jesus demonstrate for us? How do we live as citizens first and foremost of the Kingdom of God and then live out that citizenship in this world?
Painting: Detail from “The Passion” Alter by Hans Holbein (the Younger), 1524, Basel.