Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, October 1

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
—1 Timothy 1:2

Over the years, three words invariably opened my sermons and letters to the congregations I served. The words were simple; their cadence sure; their presence reassuring. 

“Grace, mercy, and peace,” I would say. Each word, and the three of them together, seemed to gather my attention, center my thoughts and prepare the way for the words that followed.

I knew the three words also opened Paul's first letter to Timothy. Before Paul launched into his message, he used the three-worded greeting to gather his thoughts as well. But one day, instead of just returning to my three friends, I decided to slow down and let each word make its mark. 

Grace…despite our shortcomings, God still accepts us.  There is still a place for us, still a love for us, and still a call to us that has everything to do with God and little to do with our own actions.  Whatever my message might be, only grace could bring it to completion. 

Mercy…I realized that Shakespeare had it right when he wrote that mercy is an attribute of God that blesses both the giver and the receiver.  In all we were trying to be, and in all we were trying to do as a congregation, we were to reflect mercy.

Peace…thanks to the gift of grace that only God can give, and the gift of mercy that we can pass along, we can live as the peacemakers Jesus called us to be.

Grace, mercy, and peace. Each word was a sermon. Taken together they pointed the way to life. And so, the opening thoughts of this month's Signposts have but three words.

Grace, mercy and peace to you.

Loving God, as we begin this new month, we ask that you might help center our thoughts and lives. When we fall short, remind us of your grace; when we are quick to judge, remind us of mercy; and when we are at war with ourselves, remind us of the peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The Signposts for October are written by The Rev. Larry Pray, who for twenty years served as a pastor for the United Church of Christ in Minnesota and Montana, until a disability meant that he had to find new ways to express life. His first book was Journey of a Diabetic, about learning to accept incurable disease. Other publications include Leading Causes of Life, co-authored with Gary Gunderson, and The Geography of Healing that includes interviews with pastors, doctors and hospital administrators about where it is that we heal.