And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” And they answered him, “TheLord bless thee.“ (Ruth 2,4 KJV) and St. John writes: “Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.” (3 John verse 15)
Sounds like from a film long ago. Employer and worker – Lord and serfs – master and slaves – farmer and migrant workers – all one big happy family, peace wherever you look, goodwill amongst men and harmony, understanding and voluntary cooperation characterise the atmosphere. Seems like a very old film – long gone. Or doesn’t it?
Well, obviously there were times like this – in good old Israel, even amongst traditional Christian folk, who would all learn and know and live their lessons of their calling in daily life and it would fare well with the household, the community and society at large. Times, when all living together would not curse each other, wishing for the worst to happen to their neighbours – even to the point of damnation, but rather wishing them well, blessing them with good and especially with the gracious, merciful and loving presence of the Lord God himself. Those were times, when people believed that having the Lord in your life and around you all day and night, was the most crucial, vital and decisive matter of all – more important than trying to control and have heaven and earth even.
Obviously St. James – who also lived long ago and in ages long past – knew, that such good wishes could just be empty words. Blessing your neighbour with nice sounding phrases while really not caring for him very much, was a danger lurking in every person and member of the Christian congregation. Rather words and deeds should be of the same kind. Blessings should go hand in hand with good works. Wishing someone well, would entail seeing to it that he does not go away hungry, without shelter and hopeless either.
Just think what it would mean for our community lives, our corporate world and sharing of this limited space on this planet if all people would live like that – caring for each other, wishing each other well (not digging traps for others and hoping all along that the other will fall into it and come to harm), knowing each other by name and making the effort to foster peace, goodwill and harmony even beyond the narrow confines of our families and local clubs and associations? Probably St.Joseph and the most blessed virgin St. Mary would not have stayed without suitable accommodation. Jesus Christ, our Lord, would not have to have slept in a manger, would not have had to flee to Egypt, would not have had to say: “Foxes have dens, birds have nests, but the Son of man does not have a place to rest his head.” The hot-headed strikes at Lufthansa would be rather different. Ferguson would not be burning and our local politicians would care more for the well-being of the nation at large than just the most profitable lining for their own wallets, homesteads and enterprises.
“Let’s be friends!” What a good idea and most helpful way forward. Understanding each other as friends, wishing each other well, finding good words and helpful deeds to support, encourage and uplift each other – just as the apostle writes: “Each one look our more for the betterment of the other than just for ones own good”. Peace be with you + the Lord be with you also with his peace, mercy and goodness + The Lord bless and keep you + The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you + Lord lift up his countenance upon you favourably and grant you peace + Amen + Amen + Amen +
We pray: O God the Father, the fountain and source of all goodness, who in loving kindness sent Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the flesh, we thank You that for his sake You have given us pardon and peace, and we ask You not to forsake Your children, but always rule in our hearts and minds, in our houses, communities and all the lands and nations by Your Holy Spirit that we may be enabled constantly to serve You in true and faithful worship and in good works amongst our people, the society at large and especially amongst those who need them most; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
May God bestow on us His grace and favour
To please Him with our behaviour
And live as brethren here in love and union
Nor repent this blest Communion!
O Lord, have mercy!
Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us;
Grant that heavenly-minded He make us;
Give Thy Church, Lord, to see
Days of peace and unity:
O Lord, have mercy!
Hymn #313 in The Lutheran Hymnal
Author: Martin Luther, 1524