Tag Archives: grace

Grace in action

I was 15 years old, and it was my job to make supper for my family that Saturday.  I left the house in the morning, with plans to go downtown, to the library and shopping, and then return by 3:00, in plenty of time to make the lasagna that was on the menu.  All the ingredients were laid out on the counter.

I won’t lay out all the misadventures that happened to me that day, but the long and the short of it was that I ended up walking into the house at 5:30 with a feeling of dread.  Everyone was coming home expecting to find supper on the table, and I knew I was going to get into trouble for not doing my job.

My dad was the only one home, sitting in the kitchen, and I plopped down at the table next to him, trying to avoid the questioning look he was giving me.  “I have had such a bad day, and I know everyone is going to be mad at me for not making supper,”  and I promptly burst into tears.

My dad was all compassion, insisting that I looked tired, that I needed to lay down and that he would make supper.  Half an hour later I heard him talking to my mom, who was very angry, and him insisting that I was not to be given a hard time.

When I think of the word “grace”, that incident came to mind this week.  Grace is love freely given.  Grace is not being held accountable, even though you should be.  Grace is the feeling of relief you get, when the bad thing you expected, turns into something wonderful instead.  All because someone loves you.

This week I’m starting a sermon series on “Word to live by”.  In the next couple of weeks I’ll be unpacking religious words that we use fairly often, to make sure we know what they mean.  Words like “grace”.

This week’s prayer:  God of grace, thank you that you are the great Gifter, offering us more than we can ask or imagine, even when we don’t deserve it.  Help us to be grace-ful people, in the name of Jesus.  Amen. 

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Rain grace upon us

Forgiveness is the water on the horizon,

and we’re the pilgrims in the desert

who cannot possibly walk there.

Tied up tight,

revenge is a hot little bundle

we hug to our chest.

We are plagued with hurt;

the betrayal, the murder,

the verbal barbs, the abandonment

the lack of love, whatever.

We have been robbed

and god almighty it hurts.

Our pain is the one sure thing

and someone has to pay.

We drag ourselves on our way

burdened with what will not sustain us.

Anger warms the belly for a while,

righteous justice can fire the mind,

self-pity burns inside.

On this most barren of trails

grace falls like rain,

a deep benediction.

Even here, forgiveness can blossom

inexplicably,

like a delicate desert rose.

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The specialist in family drama

We all know Joseph, the guy with the coat and the big dreams. And we know about his brothers, the ones who hated their kid brother enough to throw him into a pit and then sell him as a slave to Egypt. They topped their violent act with lies and bloody fabric-ations.

It seems easy to see what went wrong in that story from Genesis 37. But as with so many stories in scripture, and in our lives, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

I invite you to come to church this Sunday with a story of your own in mind. Bring a story of a broken relationship; it doesn’t matter if that relationship has been healed or not. I can think of a number of broken relationships I’ve had, with friends or family members or ex-family members.

Part of being a Christian involves looking for God in the stories of our lives. Where is God working? Where are we turning away from God? God gives us eyes to see the grace in even the most painful of stories. Sometimes it takes a year or a decade or a lifetime to see clearly. Graceful stories are rarely simple stories, with one hero and one victim, one cause and one effect, one right and one wrong.

God can take the most messy family drama, with a cast of twelve brothers and one sister and one father and four mothers and a pharaoh, spread it over two countries and twenty years, throw in some hatred, deceit and vengeance…God can take even this story and find an ending which has some grace in it.

Maybe this Sunday we’ll find some of that in our own stories.

God, you’re a specialist in family dramas, in broken relationships of all kinds. Help us this week to be open to hearing old stories told in new ways.

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Ringing out the old year

There is no better way to ring out the old year than to think about all the things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for health, for people in my family, for friends, for a home to live in, for plentiful food to eat and for a peaceful country in a world where many live with war. I’m thankful for a good job that I love. I’m thankful for the beauty of the country in which I live, for Lake Ontario shining blue everywhere I go, for the trees and the rocks of the escarpment. I’m thankful for this friendly community I live in, for the people on the street, for the people at the grocery store and the bank and the doctor’s office and the drugstore…the people in my neighbourhood. I’m thankful that I have time and resources to travel, that I can listen to music and see artwork, and read great books. I’m thankful for a sense of history, of knowing who I am and where I’ve come from. I’m thankful for laughter and all the funny people who keep me laughing. I’m thankful for seasons and holidays and traditions. I’m thankful for my pets and my backyard and my garden. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn. I’m thankful for silence. I’m thankful for memory and for feeling hopeful. I’m thankful to God who has given me every one of these gifts. I’m thankful to be part of a community where we can be thankful together.

This Sunday when we have “Prayers of the People”, you will be given an opportunity to share what you are thankful for. I hope that this year will be a thankful year, where we remember God’s grace together.

All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above, thank you Lord, oh thank you Lord, for all your love.

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