Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kingdom Sightings: Grace and Peace

Christianity Today just posted my latest column from the June issue. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Grace and Peace
How a simple salutation points us toward a new society.

I'm a book geek, so one of my hobbies is collecting autographed books. Some I acquire through my work in book publishing; others I find at bookshops. I now have more than 500 signed volumes, comprising authors from Sue Grafton and Walter Wangerin to Anne Lamott and John Stott.

Authors sign their books in myriad ways. Jimmy Carter's signature is a modest "J Carter." Max Lucado's is barely recognizable—what might be an "ML__." Calvin Miller used calligraphy. Eugene Peterson signed off with "the peace of the Lord." J. I. Packer rotated through Bible verses, from 2 Timothy 3:14–17 for a book about Scripture to Psalm 46 for Knowing God. Chuck Colson chose Romans 12:2, but more baffling was his inscription, which looked vaguely like "Burm gd."

I especially treasure signatures from those who are no longer with us. My former Wheaton professor Bob Webber signed several books to me with Dominus Vobiscum ("the Lord be with you"). Spencer Perkins wrote, "In the hope of racial healing." Rich Mullins autographed CDs with "Be God's!" Stanley Grenz inscribed a theology text with "May our Lord guide your steps." And one of my most memorable dedications came from Madeleine L'Engle, who signed my copy of A Wrinkle in Time with "Tesser well."

But my favorite phrase was inscribed by Michael Card, who borrowed the apostle Paul's signature expression: "Grace and peace." This greeting is found in some form at the opening of all of Paul's epistles, most commonly, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

[The full article is available here. I've also created a parking space for my columns here.]


Dianne said...

Excuse me, did you just say "Madeleine L'Engle, who signed my copy of A Wrinkle in Time with "Tesser well"? Like as in you met her and she signed a book for you? Well, even if it's just a signed copy you picked up somewhere, that's still something. Very cool! I'm a huge MLE fan.

Al Hsu said...

Yes, I met Madeleine L'Engle in person in the mid-90s when she was speaking at Wheaton College for some conference, I think. She did a signing at the campus bookstore. I'm not as starstruck these days about meeting authors, but Madeleine L'Engle is still way up there!

Unknown said...

Never ever heard the grace vs. peace distinction before, but it's the kind of thing I always would have wanted to find out about Christianity. ;o) It's those little details-- that intentionality and consistency with an amazing vision for God's kingdom-- in the gospel and its early proclamation that make me sigh in awe and make me want to give my life to Jesus.

Thanks for sharing!

Al Hsu said...

No problem, Ashleigh. Glad you liked it! I can't even remember now where I first came across this, whether it was in a New Testament class or a commentary or something. But I remember that it was almost glossed over in passing, and I thought, hey, wait a minute, that's pretty significant.

BTW, this was another item that I thought about blogging about but decided to save to use as a CT column.

Unknown said...

I could really use that kind of self-discipline. Some days I really wish I took a few days to really consider how I might most effectively or artistically express what I want to say... but I usually am too excited about saying it to care! Looks like the wait paid off for you, though.

Dianne said...

Wow. I am not the starstruck type either but wow, that's so cool. She was always on my "mame one person you'd like to meet in this lifetime" list. I like to think her non-fiction brought me back from the edge of disbelief by helping me come to grips with the bigness of God! Anyways, very cool and thanks for sharing!