In Sunday’s online Service of Word and Prayer, the Chapel’s assistant dean, the Rev. Bruce Puckett, began with a greeting familiar to those who attend Chapel worship services: "Grace and Peace to you." He went on to explain how these often-repeated words have taken on new meaning in this time of anxiety and fear about illness. It is a greeting we would like to extend to you and anyone with whom you wish to share it. Here is the message:
"Grace and Peace"—I often begin our worship services at the Chapel with these words. But today they feel as needed as ever. We are a people standing in need of grace—God’s active presence in our lives—and peace. We serve a God and gather, even virtually, in the name of Jesus, the one who offers both grace and peace for us today. It perhaps could go without saying that we are in a time of unprecedented anxiety and fear about illness in our communities at Duke, in Durham, across the country and the world. We surely are experiencing a deep need for grace and peace in our communities and in our own minds and hearts as we work together to limit the impact of the coronavirus on our communities.
Thankfully, God has invited us into a relationship marked by grace and open to peace. We hear throughout scripture an invitation over and over not to fear because God is active and present with us and for us. Of course, we know that life is always fragile. Yet, being freed from the bondage of fear reminds us that our deepest hope and our greatest assurance of life is in the God who breathed life into all creation. Our faith reminds us that in this life and in the life to come our first and last hope is in Christ—and it is rooted in this hope that we are free to live without fear. We are free to live without dread and with hope because the God who holds all the future holds us all today. And though the doors of the Chapel are closed for now, our faith in God is wide open. You can know that every day we are with you in our hearts and minds, and our prayers are joining with yours as we put our hope and trust in the Lord. So friends, when anxiety is great and fear presses in, may the grace and peace of Jesus be abundant for us all.