Lately I have been thinking about the word grace. It is one we don’t often talk about but it is an important word.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
So what is this grace? It is an example of God’s love for us. By grace he accepts us as the flawed human beings that we are. He understands how we can go astray and be unkind toward one another. He understands the hatred and the violence. He understands the discrimination toward others not like us.
God gets it all. But there is that word “grace.” The word that holds his love and understanding of all that we do. With faith we have been saved from ourselves.
Things have been so difficult for me since February. My husband was ill, in the hospital in March, no better at home until he was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic this month. At last we have answers and healing. Add covid and it became unbearable. During this time the only thing holding me together has been knowing that I am held in the arms of God. There were days when I couldn’t pray but could feel the prayers of others supporting me and lifting me up.
God never leaves us. Sometimes we may not be able to feel his presence but he is there. God never leaves us.
Today I realized that I haven’t written in quite a while and need to get back to posting. I have been thinking about this quote.
Pause To know the guidance of God’s Spirit, you need to be still and silent. In the cadence of your day, create some enclosures of silence where you pause and breathe and are really present to God’s presence.
-Br. Curtis Almquist Society of Saint John the Evangelist
It is important to take that time to rest in silence with God. Don’t expect for something to always come to you. It doesn’t matter. Just sitting silent and turning toward God is enough. Some people like to use the name “Jesus” over and over to focus their thoughts. Sometimes music helps. The music from the Taize community is particularly helpful. Here is one that could be used. Watch the beautiful scenes or close your eyes and just move into the song.
Once again I am thinking about the prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book. There is one phrase that has had me thinking for quite a while. I suspect that I will keep on thinking about it.
“Loving God in whom is heaven”
What a unique way to see heaven. Not as streets lined with gold or some other image that we might conjure up….but God himself/herself. In God is heaven. Being drawn into God to become part of all creation. I love that idea.
I am sure there are other ways to interpret this phrase but that is the one I am pondering now.
We can have hard times in our lives. I’m sure this is one of them for many of us. When this happens we rely on the strength we can count on. The strength God supplies for us. One version of The Lord’s Prayer in the New Zealand Prayer Book makes it very clear that God is there for us. This is just an excerpt.
With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen.
I use that prayer at at night along my personal prayers. Right now the line From trials too great to endure, spare us speaks to clearly to me. God knows there are hard times and is there for us every second. Just call on God.
This time out of time has really been a test. We have all learned things. Some we never wanted to know and some that moved us forward on our journey with God. God didn’t bring this virus but we have all moved through it in whatever way we could. It has been harder for some than others. Loved ones have been lost. Many are grieving. But through it all God has been present. His loving arms have reached out to us. His peace has been offered. All we had to do was to cling on to him.
As this state of the crisis moves on we will experience new things both good and bad. God wants us to have learned from this. Our life is his. His love holds us always.
I have heard that some evangelists are using this crisis to say that it is God’s wrath coming down on us for our evil ways. Well, there is one thing for sure. There are plenty of evil ways out there and have been since the beginning. Unfortunately mankind has not changed much over the centuries. There are still people who believe in doing good and people who don’t. In reality I believe that most people fall between the two. Some more on the good side and some on the bad.
The Bible tells us that we should strive always for the good. It also tells us that God is loving…he loves each and every one of us. He wants the best for us. He told us clearly in this passage from John
6 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Our God is a loving God. He did not send a pandemic but I’m sure he hopes we will learn from it. I reminded me of this song from my era. God asks”When will they ever learn?”
For changing people’s manners and altering their customs there is nothing better than music. Shu Ching, 6th Century B.C.
Music moves me more than anything. I can be completely lost in a hymn and have tears rolling down my cheeks. I feel the melody pulling me into communion with god. God is present with me. I can feel his spirit moving in my soul. Tonight I offer another hymn that has been around but when sung brings the holy spirit into my soul.
Victory Send down your roots into deep soil, so that when trouble comes, you can remain steadfast and unmovable, knowing that God always has the final word. And rejoice. Always and everywhere. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in. Easter is Love’s Victory over evil and death; all fear is washed away. You – yes, you! – are a beloved child of God.
-Br. David Vryhof Society of Saint John the Evangelist
This is so true. Our roots must be anchored in God but what we have to remember our branches must be flexible or the wind will blow them down.We have to be able to adapt to changes and bend to survive. So we must have deep roots in God and still be able to bend with change. God will strengthen us with both.
But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today;
Sometimes it is hard to explain why bad things happen and it can make some question if God is there or if he cares. I am sure that those fleeing Egypt felt deserted as they struggled on their journey. They had to be reminded (just as we do) that God is there and never leaves us.