Blessing in the End

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Paul, at the end of each of his 13 letters)

It’s Thursday again. Time to blog. How fast the weeks roll around!

I sit still and wait for something I’m thinking or wondering about to inspire me to write. Nothing comes, and when and as that often happens I return to my membership list and begin to pray for you.

I am learning to approach this not as a “fill in the time activity” — I have a few minutes before my next phone call, or next meeting — but as a primary, and most important work of mine, as I remember you, and pray for your joy and peace in the midst of life’s stresses and strains.

I’m reminded of the power of that moment at the end of every worship service when we turn toward each other and connect our eyes and sing and bless each other. It’s quite a moment, often evidenced by our tears. We bless each other in the end.

This follows the pattern of Paul, who ends each of his thirteen letters in the New Testament with some version of blessing. GRACE is the word that appears in each blessing, and that grace is connected to Jesus Christ in eleven blessings, and the Holy Spirit in the other two.

And the nature of this blessing is inclusive of everybody, it seems. “With all of you” he writes again and again. What makes this so powerful is that history teaches us that each of these church communities had harsh disagreements, strained relationships, and ongoing debates about their understanding of Christ, and the scripture, and ministry decisions, especially regarding the inclusion of Gentiles (everyone outside of ethnic Judaism).

Our church reality is very much the same, no? And this is what makes our unity in the grace of Jesus so powerful, that the end of the day, or the letter, or the sabbath worship, we bless each other. We wish each other an experience of the grace of Jesus, nothing but the best. Joy and peace, blessings of God’s comfort and keeping. We yield to love and goodwill, and so even though we can continue on because of grace, even in all our disagreements and differences.

So there it is. I have nothing to share today, nothing comes to mind. I have no inspiring nugget or profound adjective. Just this — “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Wherever you are, however you are, whatever you are facing — “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

I hope this summer will find us able to connect somehow. A walk, a meal, a coffee, a face-time or zoom, at a back yard potluck or at the communion table. Be in touch! And in the meantime, know that you are on my prayer list, and so in my heart, from one day to the next.

Wherever it is that our relationship might be strained, our our differences real, in the midst of it all I wish you every blessing of grace, and of the particular grace of Jesus Christ.

Love from Here!

Peter Hawkinson

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