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By Rev. Canon Dr. Todd Townshend, Bishop-Elect

Grace to You, and Peace!

To the church of God that is in Huron, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A familiar greeting, don’t you think?

At the beginning of eucharistic celebrations we begin with a similar greeting, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

This greeting is based on the greeting St. Paul uses in his letters to the churches and it is a major variation of the usual greetings of his time. He is not just saying hello, he is wishing them—giving them—the grace and peace of Christ. It seems like nothing, just an old-fashioned way to say hello, but it is not nothing. It is how Paul, and we, say one of the most important things we can say to one another, in the Christian faith. Grace and peace be with you. Grace to you, and peace.

On Oct. 26 when our electoral synod chose me to serve as bishop, it was for me another experience of God’s grace and an opportunity to step into Christ’s peace. I am grateful to everyone who was there that day, to everyone who prayed us through it near and far, to all of the candidates, to Archbishop Anne and the electoral procedures committee who led us through the work.

I’m in a transition, as we all are. Maybe your life is shifting in significant ways, too. I’m praying for all of you and I want my first word to be like Paul’s word in his scriptural letters, grace and peace.

May God be gracious to you. May God be better to you, than you deserve.

That’s not easy to say. We’ve have been nurtured, and reared, and taught, that the fundamental principle in life is that everybody gets what she or he deserves. No more, no less. You get what you deserve. It seems the fair thing. And yet in these holy letters, Paul follows his master Jesus by saying, may God give you more and more and more than you deserve. More of the gifts and benefits that come from God! Some of us deserve the good things that come our way, most of us do not. Nor do we really deserve the bad things that come our way most of the time. This is not the point, it’s bigger than that.

The gift we have been given is God’s own self. God reaches out to you and gives you what you need—Jesus. God’s Word and Spirit are with us and there is no way to see that as something we deserve, it is simply the gift that makes us alive and the gift that makes us “church”.

If I were running the world, I wouldn’t do it this way. But I’m not running the world. I’m not running anything. Except for maybe in one way: I’m running, with you, to catch up to the Risen One who is alive in the world and going ahead of us in everything we do. I’m running to catch up to Jesus and the wind of the Spirit who is unleashing this grace and peace everywhere we turn.