January 19, 2020: 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a comfort it is to know that from beginning to end our life, our faith, and our salvation are all totally dependent upon You.  All our blessings in life that bring us such peace and joy are totally dependent upon You.  And since You are full of grace and peace—well, we have nothing to fear.  So, move us to be bold and fearless in all we do—backed by Your timeless power!  Amen


TEXT:  I Cor. 1: 1-9

Dearly Beloved in Christ: 

          I envy little kids.  I envy how they sleep like a log all night long.  Meanwhile, we “older” folks tend to wake up a few times each night during our REM sleep cycle and once awake it’s hard to doze off quickly.  So, if you’re like me, you replay what’s on your mind, especially things that you haven’t yet resolved.  That’s where my mind goes into hyper-drive.  All sorts of scenarios are quickly played out and even the smallest things suddenly become “big things” in which the worst case scenario grips us.  I’ve become convinced that dark thoughts and dark times go hand-in-hand.  You toss and turn and finally fade into oblivion once again.  And then morning comes and all those dark thoughts vanish.  Light is cleansing to our psyche.  Light seems to bring on resolution and good cheer.  Is this part of the reality of that passage: “God is light and in Him dwells no darkness at all.”?  I think so.


          When we read the opening words of Paul’s epistles we tend to skip over the greetings.  That’s a mistake.  All Scripture is God-breathed and was written for our learning.  All sections are important.  And to me the most important part of each greeting is his use of the words: grace and peace.  So, too, here, for those words bring us the light of the Gospel!

          Paul was writing to beloved friends, people he knew and had helped convert in the church he started at Corinth. He cared about them.  He wanted to instruct and comfort them by supplying them insight into God’s active power in their lives.  So, he uses a familiar greeting: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

          One of my Greek professors once remarked that there is no verb in that sentence.  Yes, I know we realize that the verb: “are yours” is understood.  But in the original language it does not appear as it usually would.  Why?  After all, “grace”  and “peace” are nouns.  Well, it all goes back to a uniquely Lutheran teaching.  God’s Word is not just informational it is also transportational.  That’s because through it the Holy Spirit works.  So, “grace” is also  verbal in that it has the power to give, work, and create within us exactly what it is: God’s unconditional love for us in Christ.  The word grace used here doesn’t just tell us about God’s love and forgiveness or remind us of its existence; but it creates that love, gives that love, and conveys that love from God directly to us. Grace is pure Gospel.  And as Paul says in Romans: “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” 


          Gospel is light, God’s light.  Light brings us joy and a sense of new beginnings.  So, if you’re tossing and turning in the darkness dwell on grace as it will resolve whatever issues you are facing.  After all, God is all-powerful and all loving toward us in Christ.  Grace reminds us that that love and power are focused upon you and me.  Fear and failure disappear under grace’s forgiving freedom.

          Paul links those words “grace” and “peace” together.  That’s because grace leads, creates, and gives us peace.  The greatest folly of being human is our pride.  Pride especially shows itself in our thinking that we can handle and control and fix whatever problem comes our way.  It may be an untimely death of someone close; it may be an illness or dread disease; financial stress is another item that crops up; or how about a relationship that has hit the rocks?  The list is endless.  Pride and our inner inability to handle and fix everything on our own brings us inner warfare.  It brings darkness to our soul.  When conflicted we have no true peace, do we?

          But grace brings us God’s resolution to our pride and lack of control.  It gives us God’s forgiveness, God’s power, and God’s answers.  If we’re right with God through Christ, than nothing can destroy us.  For all human pride was ultimately destroyed on the cross by Him!  And the result of this is: peace.  Peace with God.  Peace with the world.  And peace with ourselves.  And the entire Trinity is operative in giving us this blessing of blessings.  God the Father ordained it.  God the Son achieved it.  And God the Holy Ghost was the creative Force behind it.  Peace reigns because Light reigns. 

          So next time you awake and your mind begins to go into overload, remember all this.  Remember: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Focus on that awesome truth and God will make it so because both are directed TO YOU!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox, Jan. 19, 2020

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