The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God, 

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, 

be with you all. 

-2 Corinthians 13:14

This is the final line in the Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. It also happens to be the first linewhen we gather each Sunday morning to celebrate the Eucharist together. 

Reflecting on this line found in two opposite places made me wonder, how do we begin things;and how do we end things? How do we handle the other when we first encounter them, and when that encounter comes to an end? 

I think that an appropriate way for both situations is to bless. It is appropriate to have your heart be filled with love and goodwill for the other, to give thanks for them, to hold them in your eye as a beautiful child of God, as Christ himself, and to ask for the blessing of God to be upon them. 

I wonder what would change if you blessed everyone you encountered, when you met and when you parted ways, with your words, and your actions, and your eyes, and your smile, and your heart. I wonder if the other would notice. I wonder if they might change. Maybe it is you who might just change.   

For me, I am glad that we begin our time together on Sunday with this particular blessing from this old letter. I could not imagine anything that I would wish more for you – grace, love and fellowship in the name of the triune God, whose very being models and calls us into relationship and community. 

And I want you to know that I really mean it. Whether I remember your name or not, whether you are just visiting or a weekly attender, whether we are struggling together or getting along just fine, I will greet you with a blessing. And I trust that when you say “and also with you,” that you really mean it too, because I feel it. I feel myself being richly blessed by you. 

Thanks be to God!