From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

Pray for wholeness and well-being

Last Sunday afternoon we had a very meaningful and moving prayer meeting for Newcomers from Hong Kong, attended by over 60 people. Of the newcomers there was even one young person who only arrived three days before the meeting! Quite a few of our members were there to pray with them. There were tearful reflections and sharing. In the end, prayers were offered to God in many ways. Indeed “shalom” was shared.

Continuing our reflection on the word “shalom” we find that it is used about 250 times in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). It is used primarily in three ways:

  • About 10% as a greeting or farewell. (e.g. Ezra 4:17)
  • About 25% refers to a state or relationship that is free from war or conflict. (e.g. 1 Sam. 7:14)
  • About 65% refers to wholeness, maturity and well-being in our daily lives: “And work for the peace and prosperity(shalom) of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare (shalom) will determine your welfare (shalom)” ( 29:7).

As we can see from this analysis, “shalom” is more than a greeting (hello and goodbye). It is also more than the absence of conflict. It is the concept of wholeness and wellness. We read in Genesis 43:27-28, Joseph, without his brothers recognising him, is asking about their health and his father’s health: And he inquired about their welfare (shalom) and said,Is your father well (shalom), the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well (shalom); he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves.” Here “shalom” refers to our welfare and well-being.

In the “Aaronic Blessing” (Numbers 6:24-26), Aaron was instructed by the Lord to pronounce the blessing of the Lord to the people of Israel (and to us today) with these personal words of blessing:

24 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25      the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26             the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (shalom).”

Pray for the peace of the City

However, peace (shalom) is not just for the personal well-being of oneself. We need to pray for the peace of our city and nation, as we are shown in praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6-9):

“Pray for the peace (shalom) of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! 7 Peace (shalom) be within your walls and security within your towers!”8 For my brothers and companions’ sake, I will say, “Peace (shalom) be within you!”9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

Today, we not only pray for our own peace and well-being, we also pray for the City “for the sake of the house of the Lord our God.” Today that must include for us Hong Kong, Vancouver, and for the cities in the many war-torn nations around the world (e.g.  in Ukraine).

Pray and be “shalom-makers”

We are therefore to be shalom-makers (peacemakers). In the beatitude, Jesus Himself taught us to be peacemakers: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). By this, Jesus is not talking about being  “mediators or political negotiators” (Doug Hershey)

In this verse, Jesus is not referring to mediators or sympathizers, but children of God (you and I) are at peace with God and who help others to make peace with God and therefore peace with one another. The meaning of shalom is connection to God. As peacemakers, we share the peace that we have so that others can have the same peace, and be “called sons of God.” May all our prayers bring “shalom”!

In Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee