Grace and Peace for Thanksgiving
by Lori Anderson, Director of Local and Global Initiatives
Grace and peace. It’s a common greeting found at the beginning of nearly every New Testament letter. It’s easy to skip over the greetings.
In early 2013, I was certain God was directing me to seriously engage with the book of Philippians. So I made a plan to dig in.
For weeks, I didn’t get past the greeting. It stopped me in my tracks.
“1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I didn’t have peace. I wasn’t extending grace. The obstacles to grace and peace (rather significant, from my perspective) were shallow compared to the depths of my soul where God was longing to go.
What I didn’t know then? By the end of the year I would be undergoing chemotherapy, hairless and exhausted and sick. I would need peace. I would need grace.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I wanted grace and peace to infuse my soul from some external place. It doesn’t come that way.
It’s a gift.
We don’t deserve it, or muster it, or earn it. It’s from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In a few days most of us will gather around a table with other people. Some of them have robbed us of peace and we have no grace for them. Some of them have lavished grace upon us over and over, and sharing a meal together will feel like a deep and contented exhale. Peace.
We tend to remember what should be forgotten and forget what should be remembered.
If that’s you, ask God to give you a rather large helping of grace and peace. Eat it up. Serve it to one another.
If there’s an “elephant in the room” during your thanksgiving meal, remember that there may also be something deeper—love, history, commitment, connection, presence. Jesus.
We can be thankful no matter what has happened this year. Grace and peace are gifts to us from a God who loves to give them. And as you take them in, they just might spill all over your thanksgiving table.