In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott has this to say about grace: “W.H. Auden was right when he wrote, “I know nothing, except what everyone knows–if there when Grace dances, I should dance.” Lamott continues, “I do not al all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. It can b e received gladly or grudgingly, in bit gulps or in tiny tastes, like a deer at the salt lick. I gobbled it, licked it, held it down between my little hooves.”
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a time to remember and celebrate our Presbyterian roots. The sermon is entitled “Grace-Full Christians”, based on Ephesians 2:1-10 and its proclamation that “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”. I like Eugene Peterson’s translation and paraphrase of portions of the lesson: “Saving is all God’s idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we had done the whole thing!”
As we look at grace, we’ll be joined by Philip Yancey, who went to a Christian college but didn’t experience grace there; Kathleen Norris, who will help us understand the word “wretch” in Amazing Grace (which we will sing); and Friedrich Nietzsche a critic of Christianity who asked “Where’s the joy? If God is so great, if grace is so profound, where’s the joy?”
We’ll sing “A Mighty Fortress”, have our souls nourished by the Choir’s singing of Bach’s “Jesu, lead my footsteps ever”, and enjoy James McIninch’s creativity during the Children’s sermon.