ISSUES OF FAITH: Take time for hello and goodbye with Godspeed

OUR DAILY SALUTATIONS and valedictions to each other are often rote.

“Hey, how ya doin’?” “Morning.” “See ya later” might even be reduced to “Later.”

Rote informality isn’t always inappropriate; sometimes it’s simply expedient.

In Luke 10:4, Jesus tells his disciples to “greet no one on the road.”

He isn’t asking them to be rude; he’s just asking them to be urgent in the mission he has given them.

A greeting on the road in that time and culture wouldn’t have been a polite head-nod; it would have included a hug, kiss and some conversation.

There wasn’t time for that.

Expediency and urgency are often practical, but we could all probably put a little more thought and effort into our greetings and farewells. Listen to yourself for a few days.

One interesting farewell that is heard sometimes, but not very often, is “Godspeed.”

It’s an Old English (1150-1500) conjunction of either “God or good” and “spede.”

Spede is defined as “to prosper, thrive or succeed” and has nothing to do with velocity.

Godspeed is simply a contraction for “may God bless you with success.”

In Genesis 24, Abraham sends his servant on a mission to find Isaac a wife, and in verse 12 of the King James translation, the servant prays, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham [italics added].”

More modern translations replace “good speed” with “success.”

God granted the servant success in the form of Rebekah, who became the wife of Isaac.

We find “God speed” in the King James translation of the New Testament in 2 John 10 and 11, but later translations use the word “greeting” or “welcome” instead.

Here, the caution is to not give “God speed” to a person headed in the wrong direction spreading false doctrine.

In the 1960s, the United States was on a frantic mission to send a man into space to orbit the Earth.

The Russians had already succeeded in that mission, and it was a bad season to be behind the Russians.

On February 20, 1962, the United States launched its first American into orbit.

While the world anxiously watched the event on television, fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter could be heard from his headset microphone at Cape Canaveral saying, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

And, in every sense of the word, speed he did — three times around the Earth before splashing into the Atlantic Ocean.

The entire nation exhaled in relief, and national pride soared.

God blessed John Glenn with success, not only on that mission but as a United States senator for 24 years and with a neverending passion for flight.

Prior to his death last month, he was able to fly into space again in 1998 at the age of 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

From space’s vantage point, he declared, “To look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible.”

Though I’ve never looked down from space, I agree even looking up into space.

Have you ever bid someone Godspeed? I haven’t. I invite you to join me.

Let’s look around us, not just with our eyes but with our hearts. And, when the occasion invites it, smile and bid someone “Godspeed.”


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is

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