A few years back, there was a season in ministry when opening the email inbox came with a tension headache. Accusation-filled emails and anonymous letters darkened the sky of the season. Being an inexperienced-30-year-old-pastor and naive to wading in conflict, I struggled to bridge the torrents.
As I sought a way to communicate my own posture, I remember an intentional moment when I began to sign at the end of all my communications, “Grace and Peace.”
It was more than just a way of ending the email. More than a spiritual sounding “Sincerely.” It was an offering of posture. A statement of intent. It was my hope. My desire.
I borrowed the phrase from the apostle Paul, who ended most of his letters with a similar phrase. But for Paul, there was more than meets the eye at first glance.
The word “Grace” used by Paul was similar to a normal Greek greeting…and the word “Peace” was a typical Jewish blessing. Paul, aware of the strife common among the churches whom he was writing, was sending a message at the end of the message. He didn’t say “Grace” to you Greeks and “Peace” to you Hebrews…instead he combined the two greetings and sent a new message.
“Grace and Peace.” It was his desire, and he believed God’s desire, that our lives be a pursuit of common ground. That our hope, our desire, our effort would be to live, even in disagreement, with the respect of the other.
Paul, rather than affirming the separates, created a new identity. A Grace and Peace kind of community. A place where love and respect of the other becomes our distinctness. Such should be the Church.
As we prepare to leave the Lee’s Summit area in a few weeks, we want to leave with our hearts fully revealed. We hope our departure is marked with “Grace and Peace.”
If you are reading this…you are invited to a Grace and Peace PARTY on Friday, March 11th (6-8PM) at Post Coffee Co here in Lee’s Summit. We hope to give and receive as many hugs as possible. Pass the word. Let’s party.
Grace and Peace,