Some folks want to know why I signed off “grace and peace.” Some of y’all who’ve read my stuff before know that I often sign off with “peace.” I added the “grace” after reading a piece in the last issue of Christianity Today . The author, Al Hsu, was discussing autographs he’d collected, and how he was struck by one that was signed “grace and peace.” That is the greeting that the Apostle Paul uses at the beginning of most of his letters. “Grace and peace” sounds plenty spiritual and Christian, but there’s a lot more to that greeting than meets the modern eye.
“Grace” was a typical Greek greeting in those days, whereas “Peace” (“Shalom,” in Hebrew) was, and still is, the typical traditional greeting among Jews. Paul’s audience would’ve included both Jews and Gentiles, so he chose to greet them with “Grace and Peace” to pick up the traditional cultural greetings used by both. The author says the modern equivalent might be writing to a group of folks and beginning the letter with “Howdy y’all and Hey you guys”, to make sure you connected with the Southerners and Northerners (yeah, its a cheesy analogy, but I’m sure y’all get the point).
Now the cool thing is that “grace” and “peace” are both words loaded with meaning to believers today, and together pretty much capture the essence of our faith. “Peace” alone, which I still find to be a good way to close a message, has kind of a hippie feel about it (not that there’s anything wrong with that). “Grace” is a fine way to close a message, but its so unusual that it just doesn’t feel right in modern culture. But “Grace and Peace” seems to me to be perfect.
Perfect or not, I like it. Until I come up with something better…
Grace and Peace