By Ross Peterson-Veatch, associate vice-president for academic affairs, Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotions
Grace to you and peace!
Could you imagine greeting everyone you see with Paul’s beautiful salutation to the Romans? You’re headed into the grocery store and you start offering “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!” to all you encounter there. You stop at a drive-thru and when the voice comes over the speaker you offer grace and peace to the person on the other end. To people at every store counter you approach, those in every line you stand in, to everyone you walk past, to all you see in church, at school, at work, you shout out “Grace and peace to you!”
I can imagine it, but that’s about as far as it goes. It was awkward enough in the church services I grew up attending to “pass the peace of Christ” and shake hands with people – even though we were instructed to do it from the pulpit, and I did it week after week. And if I keep imagining, awkward turns to scary. What would happen if I actually just went for it? People might think I’d lost it. They might judge me. They might remember other things I’ve done or said and think I’m just being false. And that’s not even the worst of it. I, myself, might feel a little silly, or more than a little false. I would probably begin to examine my faith, encounter my own doubts and tell myself I’m not worthy to offer anybody anything from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
But Paul would have us remember today, and every day, that we are all God’s beloved – from Rome or Jerusalem, privileged or outcast, broken or whole – and we are all called to be saints no matter what our lives are like. That grace and peace we can offer to one another this season is God’s greatest gift to us and we received it from Jesus in order that we might pass it on to everyone. And while I’ll probably choose some different words or a different tone of voice to pass on that grace and peace to everyone I meet this season, I believe it’s the best gift any of us can give.
So, grace to you this day and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! See you in the grocery store…
Romans 1:1-7 (NRSV)