1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (NRSV)
Verse 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, Verse 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind- Verse 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you- Verse 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I could just stop right there. Actually, I did just that, reflecting on the many times and places I’ve been humbly honored to echo Paul’s pastoral greeting—especially at Air Force chapels from Maine to Montgomery; behind concertina wire inside “Camp Quebec,” Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as courageous Cubans welcomed even that foretaste of freedom having floated through sharks of several species; at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, the crossroads where too many American men and women headed to and from too many freedom-focused battles; near Atlantic shores in the “Courtyard of the Dead” at the Dover Port Mortuary, during a most moving Easter Sunrise Service; and even but a few hundred feet from the Chukchi Sea, where each new day threatens to claim a few new inches of Shishmaref, Alaska’s sandy shore. And after this greeting, verses 8-9 easily become our benedictory blessing:
Most faithful God, by whom we are called into partnership with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, continue to strengthen us through him to the end, for it is only through him that we will remain blameless until that day he returns in glory. Amen.