What is grace?

1-13-Grace-DefinitionDo we really understand grace? Do we get that this gift is greater than any we have ever received or ever will. The fact that grace is a free gift of God does not remove us from responsibility. It is not a get out of jail free card. Grace carries with it the fact that God loves us so much that we are given this gift before we respond…..and respond we must. Living out the message of Christ and follow his word is our response.

Generous God, you are willing to give us the gift of grace without any promise on our part. Help us to respond with hearts full of love and willingness to be your hands and feet. AMEN

 

 

Be welcoming

Hospitality is a form of worship —————————The Talmud

Welcoming people is so important. I have been to churches where no one spoke to me. Obviously I was in no hurry to go back.

Being together over a dinner table is so important. Meals bring us closer together. Jesus left us with a meal for us to share. It is the ultimate hospitality.

Greet people in love and share meals of food and meals from the altar.

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Generous God, help us to be as generous to others as you have been to us. AMEN

And the greatest is love

Today I am tired so I ask you to think deeply on these words about love.

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1 Corinthians 13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Gift of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Keep quiet—walk away

Conflict cannot survive without your participation. ————-Wayne Dyer

The Bible shows us how to avoid conflict. It tells us to turn the other cheek. Not an easy thing to do. For most of us it has nothing to do with physical violence but instead using words (that may not be too kind). A person can’t argue by themselves. If you can’t keep your temper walk away. Words can hurt and cannot be taken back whether out loud or on social media.

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Gracious Lord, you have called us to kindness and love. Help us to remember this when faced with unpleasant situations. AMEN

Mercy

Pope Francis insists that mercy is at the very top of the Christian hierarchy of great truths and everything falls apart whenever mercy is displaced by anything else or anything less.

The dictionary defines mercy as: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The Old Testament. Mercy: A Part of God’s Nature. Although people have the capacity for showing mercy, especially toward those with whom they already have a special relationship, a lack of mercy is more natural to the human condition. Mercy is, however, a quality intrinsic to the nature of God. It is for this reason that in some situations “merciful” was a sufficient description of God. from: Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Mercy is something we don’t always see as related to us. We think of a courtroom with a judge. But sometimes we are the judge. We can choose to be hard-nosed or forgiving. Notice that the dictionary includes forgiveness in the definition. Forgiving a hurt is mercy. We have opportunities to forgive and it is sometimes difficult to do. We may have to show forgiveness but work for a while on really forgiving.

In-todays-society-in-which-forgiveness-is-so-rare-mercy-is-ever-more-important.

Merciful God, you have forgiven us so much. Help us to show the mercy that you so readily give. AMEN

Why are we here?

If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one in pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again,
I shall not live in Vain.

Emily Dickinson

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We often wonder “why are we here?” What is the point of this life? I think that this poem tells us why. We are here to love God’s world and everything in it.

Miraculous God, help us to cherish everything in this world. AMEN

Hope

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.–——Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve spent the last years of his life strapped in a wheelchair and yet he could say this. I have a friend whose doctor’s have said that she would be dead years ago. Her life is not perfect…she is living with physical losses but she continues to live each day. Her Facebook page is filled with family trips, boat rides, ocean photos and the most wonderful paeans (songs of triumph) to God. She is filled with love for God and her life. God is with her. She knows it and she rejoices in it. So should we.

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Loving God, we thank you for the gift of your presence and love. Help us to see it each day. AMEN

The fern is green!

Outside of my house I can see the resurrection ferns growing on the oak trees. I love having this reminder of how life can come from death. When things are dry and there is little rain it turns brown and looks dead. Then the rains come and it rises green. I remember the hymn “Now the Green Blade Riseth” and the fern is proof of that.

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J. M. C. Crum
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 311

Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Yes! Love lives again. Thanks be to God! AMEN

Two simple (not simple or rules) rules

God always required something deeper than religious legalism.—-Eric Metaxas in Bonhoeffer.

In Christianity we have many different denominations. I grew up in several of them. I was expected to learn about each and understand what I had to do to be a part of the belief. As a youth I saw them as the rules of belonging. Unfortunately, it seemed to me that many of these tenets were created to keep the lines of a certain denomination clear….to set it apart from the others. This gave me difficulty.

As an adult, the rules I want to follow are not really rules but a way of life. The life that Jesus led and the one that he wants us to follow. He told us how..Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. …Love your neighbor as yourself. These are the only ones we must try our best to follow.

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Discerning God, help us to live as you would have us live..to follow your example in all that we do. AMEN

God forgives—others can too

Eve left the garden and wondered if God was still hurt by her betrayal of His love for her. ———————-Suzanne Boyd

We often do things that hurt others. If we care about them we regret that hurt. We wish we could take it back. We also do things that we know makes God dismayed and disappointed. In both cases we need to seek forgiveness. Genuine regret can be seen and felt by the person we hurt. By acknowledging our regret and asking for forgiveness we can begin to set things right.sorry

Be sure to say you are sorry when you hurt someone.

Forgiving God, we know that when we ask forgiveness we will receive it from you. Help us to also seek forgiveness from those we hurt. AMEN