could we
include today?


Thursday Reflection


28th January 2021

messages on social media

'Grace and peace from God
 our Father
 and the Lord Jesus Christ.'

....Philippians 1:2

Do you find your post mainly
consists of junk mail?
Ours does.

But yesterday I found something
amongst the advertising
which lifted my heart -
a hand written note from
an elderly lady with whom
I am in fairly constant communication,
giving me news of her sister
who is now in lock-down
in a care home.

I used to take Communion
to her regularly
and we both miss these visits.

Today we tend to communicate
by email, texts or direct messages
on social media.

It may be more immediate
but it is also more impersonal.
An old fashioned letter generally
begins with a heartfelt greeting,
(I can still remember writing out
possible 'greetings' to a
friendly letter in my
junior school writing class -
and that was a long time ago!)

Paul, used two welcoming words
in greeting in his letter
to the people of Corinth.

Grace and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It might seem as though
he was simply choosing two
friendly greetings from
a list he had learnt as a child.

However, if we dig a little deeper,
we discover his greeting was
actually rather strategic.
He was seeking to be inclusive
in a society that was often divided.

In that ancient culture,
the term 'grace' was customarily
used when greeting a gentile -
anyone who was not of
Jewish heritage.

The Greek word for 'grace'
is 'charis' and means joy,
pleasure, beauty and brightness.
It is even connected to
our English word 'charm'.

Peace on the other hand,
was typically used when
addressing a Jewish audience.
This type of peace isn't just
one that is without of problems;
it means complete and
total well-being.

The Philippian church body
was going to be made up of
Jews and non-Jews,
and right at the start
Paul included them both.

The city of Philippi was
inhabited largely by non-Jews -
both Greeks and Romans -
and although Latin
was the official language,
most people spoke Greek.

By using both 'grace' and 'peace'
in his opening greeting,
Paul is subtly echoing
the theme through Scripture;

'There is no Jew or Greek,
 slave or free,
 male or female;
 since you are all one
 in Christ Jesus.'

....Galatians 3:28

The Philippian church
was diverse in other ways too.
It contained people of different
socioeconomic statuses.

Also, Paul's friendship
with a woman named Lydia
was a bold statement of the
inclusiveness of the gospel
in a culture where woman
were often overlooked
and marginalised.

I love how Paul addressed
everyone in his greeting -
even those he might not
have known as well
or had much in common with;
he accepted all equally.

How might Jesus be prompting us
to become more inclusive today?

May we take a cue from
Paul and reach out in that
unconditional love
exhibited by Jesus,
to pursue diverse relationships,
demonstrating the gospel as we do.

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Grace and Peace '
sung by Fernando Ortega
via the link shown below.