Sunday, March 3, 2013

Amazing Grace

By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

AAmazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
                   [-John Newton, from The United Methodist Hymnal, #378]

Many of us probably grew up learning the words to this famous and popular hymn of the church.  Even those who didn't learn its lyrics have probably heard its haunting melody played or sung at some point... by famous singers, at music festivals, and even at funerals and memorial services (often via bagpipes).  But while this song easily moves our spirits, often today I find that its words are also easily taken for granted. 

In her book Putting the Amazing Back in Grace, Ann Weems explains:
            A...What worries me still is how easily we in the church forget the poetry of God, how easily we in the church extract the amazing from grace, how easily we turn Hosanna in to ho-hum and belief into bureaucracy and righteousness into rules. Addicted to our agendas, bound to our budgets, we fail to remember that the Love of God is written upon our hearts.... Jesus told the people to love their enemies, and the people were amazed. He told them to have compassion for strangers, and the people were amazed. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and the people were amazed. He told them to pray for those who persecuted them, and they were amazed. He told them to set the captives free, and the people were amazed. He broke the rules, and healed on the Sabbath, and the people were amazed.... I don't know how we ever got so un-amazed.  The amazing thing is this: Even now Jesus speaks... Even now we can touch the hem of his robe and be healed. Even now we can share our bread and our wine with a starving world. Even now God the poet pours grace upon our heads... Even now we can be amazed."
                  [-Ann Weems, Putting the Amazing Back in Grace(Trade Cloth, 1999)]

How about you?  Have you remembered what's so amazing about God=s grace?  Have you allowed that grace to turn your "ho-hum" into Hosanna?  An addiction to rules into righteousness?  A fumbling with life's awkward "prose" into God's profound "poetry"? 

The amazing thing is that God's grace touches each of us in unique ways. If you're willing, I invite you to respond back to this message and share in 1-2 sentences/phrases how God's grace has uniquely touched you.  Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

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