Sunday Gathered Worship, January 15, 2017
Grace to You and Peace
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
By Elizabeth Dede
I grew up a Lutheran pastor’s kid. My dad, who is now 85 years old, is also a Lutheran pastor’s kid. His mom and dad grew up speaking German, so they always went to German church. My dad grew up speaking English, so he always went to English church.
My dad is by far the youngest in his family. His two older brothers were old enough to be his father, and his sister and next brother were gone from home by the time my dad was going to school. So he grew up like an only child, which meant he went to church on his own. In order to make sure that my dad actually went to church, his dad always quizzed him on the sermon at Sunday evening dinner.
My dad followed the same practice with us kids, even though we all went to church together. And we were not allowed to say, “That was a good sermon, Dad.” We had to be prepared to give some examples from the sermon to show that we really were paying attention.
Well, it’s been years now since I heard my dad preach, but I still remember that every sermon began this way, “My dear friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So hearing those words, over and over again, makes me wonder, “What do they really mean?”
Grace, I learned as a good Lutheran kid, is what saves us: “By grace you have been saved, and this is not your own doing, but a gift of God, lest anyone should boast.” Grace is that gift from God that we don’t deserve, that we cannot earn. Grace is the vast lovingkindness of God. Grace fills us with hope. The darkness of the world around us is changed into the light of Christ by grace.
Peace is also a word that I heard many times in church growing up. Several times throughout worship, my dad would say, “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” and we would chant back, “And with thy spirit.” Peace is not just the absence of war and violence, it is a state in which all is made whole, where there is justice, where all relationships are reconciled. Here at Koinonia, peace is part of our vision statement: we look for “peace through reconciliation.” So we try to be at peace with all of God’s creation. If we have wronged a person, we go to them to seek forgiveness. If we feel wronged, we go to the person to speak directly to them in love. We try to be at peace with our environment—grazing our cattle on fresh grass, letting our chickens roam, and treating our pecans and fruits and vegetables biologically rather than with chemicals.
“Grace to you and peace.” These are gifts that we have to offer to each other. We hope to live our lives in a way that demonstrates these gifts. We pray that Koinonia is a place full of grace and peace. We ask God that our whole world be filled with grace and peace so that the goodwill promised by the angels will reign here and now.
So, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.