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When my father, mother, and I lived in the remote village of Akiak, Alaska in the late 1970’s, we had two ways to communicate with family and friends in the “lower 48”; by using the only telephone in the village or by writing letters. The telephone was located in a quonset hut that was sort of a community building. If it rang, whoever happened to hear it would answer and then run to try and find the person who was being called. If you were the caller, you needed to calculate the time zone difference and hope that someone on the other end would answer. Letter writing was more reliable, if slower. Sometimes my mother would write to arrange a phone call; e.g., “On Friday I will be calling you at 5 pm your time.” Then that person would hang out at the quonset hut waiting for the phone to ring.

I still have some letters that I received during those years. There is something very intimate about holding paper that you know the sender also held and who spent time writing their thoughts. Is letter writing still taught in schools? Or has technology and social media taken over so that pen and paper will become a lost form of communication? I remember learning in grade school how to properly begin an informal letter;

September 27, 1975
Dear Uncle Al,
How are you? I am fine.
Love, Debbie

Hey, it was grade school; there wasn’t much going on in my life at that time! And please don’t call me Debbie.

While we are taught to begin a letter by addressing the person to whom we are writing, people in biblical times began a letter with their own names, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Grace” was a customary greeting for the Greeks. “Peace” was a customary greeting for the Jews. Read the beginning of other New Testament books written by Paul and you see how important this greeting was for him. By using “grace and peace” Paul included both the Greeks and the Jews in his writings;

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Eph 2:14-18

We don’t think much about Paul’s “grace and peace to you” openings; but it was radical for his time. With just two words he emphasized that everyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior is part of God’s family. Rather remarkable, really. I have the words “Grace & Peace” hanging in our dining room at home.

How do you greet people? What two words could you use that carry more weight than the usual “How are you?”

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

I’m praying for you,

Pastor Deb