16:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
They say familiarity breeds contempt. It certainly happened in the case of dandelions. If they were rare or hard to grow they would probably be a prized flower. Familiarity has other effects too though. It doesn't always breed contempt but sometimes it creates invisibility. Sometimes things are so present they are absent.
Take common greetings for example. "How are you?" Do we want to know? Even if we do want to know do they really tell? Worse still when too people pass and one says "Hi, how are you?" and the other responds "Good, how are you?" it's entirely possible neither of them really noticed they said or heard anything. The syllables fly out and fall without any thought whatsoever. Familiarity.
Paul's letters all begin and end in similar fashion. The words are familiar. So familiar that it's possible we stop reading before the words come. We see them. We just don't pay them much or any attention.
Perhaps we should rethink the habit of passing by the familiar.
Perhaps the two sentiments at the end that are so easy to let pass in a blur of non importance, like a field of dandelions are the most important words in the entire letter. I mean what kind of world would we live in if we were constantly aware of and living in the grace and love of Jesus? To be in His grace I need to be aware that I need His grace. That is a place of humility. There is no arrogance there. As the hymn writer expressed it "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." No room for superiority in that space. No racism, prejudice, gender bias, nothing of that kind. I need a Saviour and I have one. Grace. From grace love comes easily. His love lavished grace on me and that love flows out to others. We love because He first loved us.
The love Paul has poured out and continues to pour out on Corinth comes straight from Jesus. We're it not for Him, Paul would likely never have stepped a foot down in that city. Love is born of grace.
May His grace be with you today. May my love from Him be yours as well. Let's stop letting the familiar slip by unnoticed. Greetings and well wishes are familiar for a reason. They are the most important, not the least important. They open and close letters and days and partings and meetings precisely because they are vital.