Dear God,

   “Well, hello Grace.”

   Have you ever done something un-graceful and ended up with the name “Grace” for a while?

   It’s all in good fun and the name is usually earned as a result of temporary physical ineptitude.  For instance, there I am, minding my own business as I walk down a sidewalk with friends. I have, by the way, been walking with a fair degree of certainty for more than a few years now.  Suddenly my toe, which has been steadfastly and quietly doing its duty of helping me walk upright and without incident, a) catches on the back of my opposite foot, b) gets tripped by an imaginary crack in the sidewalk, or, c) touches a stone the size of a pea.  In an instant I’m shooting through the air like one of the Flying Wallendas.  (Actually, I don’t look anything like a Flying Wallenda because my eyes and mouth are in the, “What the heck is happening to me?” mode as my arms and legs are angled in ways that you, Lord, didn’t intend them to be.)

     One moment I’m walking and talking, and the next moment I’m splayed on the sidewalk with coffee dripping down my jeans and an ice cream cone smashed against my shirt.  My jeans may be dirty or torn, my shirt is disheveled, and I might be bleeding somewhere.  That’s when my ever-true set of friends who are otherwise known for their compassion and love and support, begin laughing hysterically at the mess I’ve made of myself and say (as only true, compassionate friends can say), “Way to go, Grace!”  With friends like these… 

     These things, by the way, never happen when I’m alone.  They only happen when I’m in the company of above-mentioned “compassionate” and supportive friends.

     So, what about that name/word, Grace?  What is the definition of Grace (aside from the label I, rightfully at times, earn)?

     That’s what members of our church have an opportunity to look at over the next few weeks as we look into the book, “What’s so Amazing about Grace?”, by Phillip Yancy.

     Grace, in our Christian faith, is the “Free and Unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” 

     “It is a totally free gift given to creation by the Creator.  It can not be earned, deserved, entitled, transferred, or in any way bought by word, action, or deed.  You don’t deserve it.  You did nothing to earn it.  It is simply given.  Period.  End of sentence.  Drop the mic.”

     Grace is different than mercy.  Grace is “receiving favor or a blessing we did nothing to deserve.”  Mercy is “a reserved punishment from something we did to otherwise deserve that punishment.”  Phillip Yancy would say that the only true thing that makes a Christian fellowship different than anything else in town is Grace and proclaiming/exhibiting the grace which is known through scripture and the compassionate community of faith: the Church.

     Anyone can join in the study.  Call our church office for more info, but in the meantime there are questions about how people see our church.

    I’ve heard people describe the church with words like, warm, inviting, fun, meaningful, faithful, active, personal, and other words.  But as important as all of those are, perhaps there’s a word we should keep as a visor above our eyes and hearts: Grace.  We are a community of compassionate Christians who have experienced the Grace of God and want to share that free and precious gift with everyone.  We’re not just “warm” or “nice”:  We are full of Grace. 

     As always, thanks for listening.  I love you.            

                                                                                                            Dan

Pastoral Pondering September 2019