• Calvary Baptist Church

Letter from the Pastor: Grace and Peace to You

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ - I Corinthians 1:3

Dear Friends in Christ: Internet pages are filled with all kinds of New Year sayings, quotes, and resolutions, some humorous and others serious. It was Mark Twain who said: “This year I’m going to live within my means, even if I have to borrow money to do it!” On a more serious note, I was especially drawn to these: “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” - Goran Persson “Well, we have a whole new year ahead of us. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe next year at this time we’d like each other a little more.” - Judy Garland I believe the Apostle Paul would affirm the two resolutions or aspirations above. Paul used the words ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ as a salutation in every one of his letters and they are excellent words to carry us into and through the New Year of 2020. People yearn for grace in their lives and we have the opportunity to be touched by it and to extend it to others. There is something special in knowing that the New Year begins with grace – God’s unmerited favor to us through his love and mercy in Jesus Christ. If we can remember that God’s first word to us is grace, then a lot of other problems would disappear in human relationships. We would never act in an ungracious manner toward anyone. You’ve heard the expression, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” In terms of a New Year’s resolution, it is noteworthy to affirm that more people are loved into the kingdom of God than are argued or intimidated into it. May we resolve to live out God’s grace before others and continually strive to be God’s gracious church. Paul also emphasizes peace. “Grace AND peace to you...” Peace is something we all long for and this includes inner peace, relational peace, peace in our communities and peace in the world at large. May we resolve to allow God’s peace in Christ to inform and transform us so that we can live as agents of His peace and be part of God’s answer to all the violence and evil in the world. Paul also emphasizes gifts of grace that are given to each of us for service as God’s beloved children. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 he says: “You do not lack any spiritual gift...” He is saying that the church is not lacking in any spiritual gift so there is a specific gift each of us has been given for service as part of God’s church in the world. Paul outlines many of these gifts in several of his letters but they include gifts of pastoring, teaching, healing, administrating, the gift of languages, hospitality, generosity, visitation, evangelism, helping, praying, etc. If we indeed do have all the spiritual gifts as one body in Christ, as the Apostle Paul seems to intimate, then there is really nothing that we are incapable of doing spiritually and our New Year’s resolution ought to be to take those gifts and put them to work. Let each member of the church resolve to make themselves available with the gift and ability by which God has graced them. Finally, take note of the mention of the Lord Jesus Christ in Paul’s salutation: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the opening ten verses of 1 Corinthians 1, Paul mentions the Lord Jesus Christ ten times. That’s a lot! It’s Paul’s way of saying, “Please, please, resolve to be a Christ-centered church!” New Year’s resolutions summarized: To show grace to each other and the world at large; to seek peace, receive God’s peace, and be an agent of God’s peace to others; to honor God by putting our spiritual gifts to use in God’s service; and to be a genuinely Christ-centered people. May you ring in the New Year with joy knowing that you are blessed by God to be a blessing to others! We wish you all a blessed New Year and pray that God’s peace will touch you in special ways. Yours in Christ, Pastor Mardy