Why Bother? Part 3: Greeting
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you. It is a familiar line for a longtime Lutheran Church goer. In fact, you can find it in almost any service, from everyday Sundays to weddings and funerals. So what is so important about this short section of the service?
Greetings in the name of God are strongly rooted in the Epistles (or Letters) found in the Greek Scriptures (aka: New Testament). It's important to remember that the epistles are letters. They were not initially written for the larger Bible, but instead for gathered communities of faith. It would be like the bishop sending our community a letter or an email. The greetings in these letters are pleas for the work of the Holy Trinity to strengthen that particular community. The words of the greeting we use every Sunday in church come from the Second Letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13.
In our worship, not only is that single sentence a greeting, it is also an invocation, inviting God to come into our hearts while at the same time encouraging each other to be open to God's holy presence. In that supplication, we find a call to worship the God who constantly invites us into a relationship filled with grace and love. We remember why we are gathered. We remember who named and claimed us. And we are invited once again to lift up our hearts and our hands to worship.
ELCA Pastor Rev. Harvard Stephens puts it best. “When we say to one another: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, we are expressing a promise that revives and restores each other, especially those people who have lost their way. We are calling on a power that can make a way out of no way and certainly make a way out of the mess that people can make in their failure to stay on God's side. We are being renewed because the One who conquered sin, death, and the devil is still leading, forgiving our faults, and reviving our souls again and again!”
By Pastor Danielle