It was a very busy Sunday morning a couple of months ago that had not been going well. I was frustrated and anxious. I stepped out of my office and looked down the hallway toward the Fellowship Hall and said hello to Phil, Karoline, and William. All of a sudden William came running full speed toward me. I’m thinking to myself where is he going…what does he see? Thinking he’s going to run past me, I squat down to catch him as he goes by. Much to my surprise he runs right into my open arms and gives me the biggest and longest bear hug! In that moment my frustration and anxiety melted away. William’s hug changed me that morning. As I was driving home that day I realized that this was grace!
William’s hug was a gift from God. God knew what I needed that morning even though I didn’t know I needed it-at least until after the gift was already given. It was undeserved-there was no earthly reason that I should be given such a gift by God other than the pure fact that I’m a child of God and God loves me. This is grace. Grace is a gift from God that comes when we least expect it but most need it and brings us joy.
Beginning in my college years I realized that I was afraid of grace. I didn’t even like to utter the word. It was something I avoided like the plague. In seminary and a close friend and I were having a conversation and I shared with her my feelings around grace. She gave me Philp Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace? told me to read it and pass it on when I was finished. With hesitation and trust I read the book (I still have the book J). It changed my whole perception of grace. It finally clicked in my head that grace was not something one earned. Grace comes from a loving God who loves me beyond my sins and imperfections.
I think this quote from Yancey’s book sums up what grace is all about
Grace does not excuse sin…but it treasures the sinner. True grace is shocking, scandalous. It shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to sinners and touching them with mercy and hope.
My hope this Advent season is that we as a community of faith will see and respond to God’s love filled gift of grace with our own gracious actions towards on another.