“Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”

Greetings

1 Peter 1:1 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”

We start the Epiphany Season this week and start to look at the life of Christ, God incarnate, entering flesh and bones like us.  We do not climb up to God but he came down and revealed his character in Christ.  Who would have had a “bird’s eye view” of this Jesus character, seen him under the microscope of life’s pressures and really known how Jesus ticks?  My suspicion as we start 2022 is that an on the spot responder might be the Apostle Peter, one of the 12 who traveled with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to Peter’s own death, supposedly crucified upside down under Nero in the 60s – not the 1960s!  Peter was at most of the major events like the transfiguration, the trial, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost.  Most of the epistles, the letters that follow the four gospels and Acts were written by Paul who writes in long complicated sentences and who was not an eye witness.  So I want to spend the next while starting our reflections and devotions in 1 and 2 Peter.

     Peter lived during the early days of Christianity when Christians were a minority and subject to many kinds of isolation.  Now there is a word we recognize as we deal with Covid and political polarities and ethnic changes in our country.  Where will we find hope this year in the doom and gloom of our culture?  Early Christians were not a subgroup of Jews but separating from them.  Romans definitely enjoyed throwing Christians to the beasts in the arena or using them as human torches at night.  Pagans thought of Christians as atheists because of their focus on one God, rejecting other deities.  How did they survive that period?  Let’s start 1 Peter 1.

         Peter uses some interesting words to greet the audience he is writing to.  He addresses them as “elect,” as exiles scattered across at least five Roman provinces, “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God,” and obedient to Jesus through the “sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.”  That was a long sentence with a lot of ideas. 

         As believers we are elect and chosen.  I have never won any contest but those words imply I have value in the eyes of my creator.  I am not a biological accident.  Regardless of how my parents felt at my conception, there is a God who has his hand on me in the midst of my struggles to become.  Not only am I valuable, I am not alone.  The Holy Spirit is walking with me when I feel like a stranger and different from “public polls.”  The Holy Spirit is helping me become my better self.  As I do my self talk this week, let me never forget that there is a God who values me where I am and whose Spirit is helping in the choices I have to make. 

         Peter’s conclusion: grace and peace.  Grace is the ability to forgive myself and others when we fall short because we both have eternal value and peace because I know God will bring justice and carry me through the shadows to the light.  That’s good news to start 2022.  Grace and peace to y’all scattered across the States reading this.

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