The Apostle Paul began most of his letters with some version of "Grace to you and peace in the name of God our Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ." From the beginning, he wanted to make clear that his intentions were to cooperate with the good things God was doing in a particular community's life. To that end, he offered his readers "Grace and Peace." A few thoughts as we begin together...
"Grace and Peace..." To be sure, these are words loaded with meaning and goodness, but there is something deeper than all that. If I remember correctly what I learned from my friend, Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer, the words Paul chose to use had their origin in two different language - Greek and Hebrew. Paul was not simply using nice words, he was honoring all involved in his greeting by beginning "Charis and Shalom..." As we begin here, all Jews and Greeks are welcome. This is a place for all.
"Grace..." This is one of my favorite words in the the Christian vocabulary. It is not a noun, but an adverb. One does not give Grace, but acts in Grace. To be sure, we speak of "God's Grace", but, if we are precise, we are speaking of the way in which God acts towards us: beneficial action without any expectation of return. A gift given for the good of the receiver.
Here, on this blog, we act with Grace. We do not respond quickly or with hot temper. We do not seek to hurt or cut down our sisters and brothers. Here, we act as Christ acted: we empty ourselves to the point of death.
"Peace..." All manner of goodness. All manner of wholeness. All manner of complexity. Peace is the opposite of fragmentation. Peace is the opposite of simplistic thinking. Peace honors even that which seems contradictory.
In this space, we take action which serves to build up the Body (SOMA) of Christ, not split it apart. We do not back one another into a corner, but walk side by side.