The turn of a calendar page makes little difference to reality, nevertheless, the beginning of a new year symbolises change and fresh possibilities for many of us. So how are you launching into 2022? Some of us remain disheartened and exhausted as we continue to respond to the twists and turns of an endlessly creative pandemic. Others, the glass-fullers amongst us, may be looking forward to hitting the bright side of the 2022 road.
Whether we are anxious or excited about 2022, changes to our lives and lifestyles are likely to remain with us for some time to come. Over these last two years, each of us have carved out our own unique ways of responding to the pandemic in response to our particular health needs, work demands or family and social connections. Hopefully, 2022 will see QPBC continuing to reconnect and rebuild Christian community as we have more opportunities to connect. As we come together these multiple responses and approaches will bump up against each other. Some will feel nervous or cautious whilst others a bit more gung-ho!
So can I ask all of us to show extra consideration for one another in these months and indeed for ourselves! Let’s welcome one another with a no-blame, no-shame mentality allowing us each our own way to deal with these uncertain times.
That will require us to grasp the most thrilling and life-transforming Christian truth: Grace!
Grace is the quite staggering fact of God’s intervention in our world arising out of, what author Brennan Manning calls, the “furious longing of God”. At an immeasurable cost to himself, God our heavenly Father has broken into the world to reach, rescue and restore human beings.
Grace is God’s unique gift:
Grace is undeserved favour, God’s other-worldly intervention in Jesus that interrupts the cycle of crime and punishment, sin and death.
Grace is outrageous, silencing the prideful inner moralist that tells us we can pull ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps. Grace shatters the lie that faking our virtue before God with the veneer of respectability, or the smokescreen of religious behaviour wins his favour.
Grace is candid, it does not need to pretend but can face the truth of our own spiritual poverty and hopelessness because God has done for us on the cross what we could never do for ourselves.
Grace sings: I once was blind but now I see,
Grace has the courage and confidence to say I am still a beginner, a habitual sinner in need of God.
“From him, we have received from him grace upon grace,” says John 1:16. Grace received becomes grace given. Grace is the atmosphere in which Christian community flourishes. Grace is not an empty “kumbaya” around the campfire that pretends unity and tolerates sin. Grace is not niceness but the tough love that can call out wrong whilst at the same time embracing the wrongdoer. Grace pays the price for the offence, so the offender has hope for the future.
“Grace”, as Kirsten Powers in her Book “Saving Grace,” says “does not encourage dispassion or silence in the face of wrongdoing “
Instead, she says,
“it’s about speaking your truth without spitting contempt; co-existing with people you don’t even want to share a planet with let alone a country “
So, our teaching theme these next few months is Grace – it is truly amazing. We will be hearing Paul’s heart through the letter to the Galatians as he holds fast to the truth of grace in a world where ungrace rules
As you look forward to Sunday: here are a couple of questions:
- How would you describe God’s grace at work in your life? What does his undeserved favour look like in your experience?
- Think about someone you are different from you or disagree with. What would it look like to express grace to them?