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  • janetmchenry

How do you say Grace?

I am betting more people than normal will be using the word “grace” this week.

“Will you say the grace?”

After all, some kind of giving of thanks is expected for thanks-giving day, right? provides insight into the English origin of the word. It was first recorded in 1125–75 in Middle English, taken from Old French, which came from the Latin grātia, meaning “favor, kindness, esteem,” as a derivative of grātus “pleasing.”

The English teacher in me kept reading, and I found I hadn’t made this connection between words before. “¡Gracias! Grazie! When a Spanish or Italian speaker says thanks, they are invoking one of the meanings behind the word grace. That’s because grace, gracias, and grazie all descend from the same Latin word, grātia.

“For the ancient Romans, grātia had three distinct meanings: (1) a pleasing quality, (2) favor or goodwill, and (3) gratitude or thanks. We find all three of these meanings in modern-day English. The first when we describe someone as having (or not having) grace: “Dancing, she had all the grace of an elephant on skates.” The second when we talk about giving or getting grace: “by the grace of God.” And the third when we say grace (i.e., “thanks”) at a meal.

“So if you have something to be grateful for, you can say thank-you, grātia, gracias, or grazie. Just make sure you don’t give that something a coup de grâce.”

Just to make it clear that “coup de grace”–it’s like the final death blow. You don’t want that.

In the Christian faith, however, GRACE means more than thanks or a pleasing quality or simple goodwill, like someone paying for your coffee in the Starbucks line.

It’s a life over death definition:

“(a) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.

the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

(b) a virtue or excellence of divine origin:

the Christian graces.

(c) Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God’s favor or one of the elect.”

When God pours out his grace on me, that means he has overlooked all my mess, all my mistakes, all the stupid things I’ve said or done, simply because 50 years ago this December 6th I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. Done deal. His gift of life exchanged for mine.

Instant grace poured out for eternity for my sake.

And while Craig and I will SAY grace on Thanksgiving Day, I will be thanks-giving every single day of my life for God’s word of grace for my life.

For what are you thankful this year?

Would you like to share the grace you typically pray before or after a meal?

Janet McHenry is very thankful for her four kids, their spouses, and ten grandchildren–even though she won’t see them this Thanksgiving. Instead, she’ll be cooking up three turkeys and hauling them an hour to Reno to her church for a crowd of 300 or so. Her kind of party–the more the merrier! An author and speaker, you can connect with her at

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