Graceful Greetings

Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again,rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything, tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. Philippians 4: 4-6 (TLB)

Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace be with you. Philippians 4:9 (TLB)

Brennan Hurley is from North Carolina.Unfortunately, the week before Easter he had a disagreement with a parishioner, whom we'll call Steve. When Steve showed up to worship the next week, Brennan found himself standing in the pulpit at the beginning of worship with his mind flooded with worry about Steve and about our church, rather than focused on the good news of the Resurrection. What a terrible way to start worship on Easter!

On that day Brennan truly understood why in the first few verses of all his letters, Paul starts with something along the lines of today's quoted scripture. He doesn't start with condemnation or correction. He doesn't get to the point of the letter until he has first reached out to them in Christian love, no matter what the situation. So that Easter, during the "passing of the peace," Brennan made it a point to walk straight from the pulpit toward Steve, shake his hand, and say, "Steve, grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ." Since that day, Brennan has come to the conclusion that Paul had it right. We will have disagreements with one another, but we can't properly worship God and have true Christian relationships unless we first reach out in love.

When we intentionally make peace, grace, and love the priorities in out relationships, our lies begin to look more and more like the life of Jesus.

Prayer: Loving God, help us to show your love to everyone before we do anything else, and help us to love each other even when we don't agree, in Jesus' name, amen.

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