I think that my sermon went well. Sadly, it was one of those noteless sermons...well, almost noteless. I brough the odd little musings that are posted below with me. Some day soon we will be able to record our sermons so we can podcast them. In the mean, I'll try to give a quick summary.
I seem to be taking this route a lot lately, but grace can only be found in relationship...relationship with Christ and with one another. Paul seems to agree with me.
The passage (Ephesisans 2:1-10) is the first half of a brief theology of reconciliation. We are reconciled to God and to one another through grace. So, I spoke of being reconciled to God through grace. I know, to many this may be too obvious a line to take. I find it a worthy challenge.
Grace is hard to pin down for many people. Is it like karma? Somewhat...in that it is an understanding an undergirding of our relationships with one another, yes. But otherwise it is nothing like karma.
Is it something that is worth personifying? Yes, but only initially. I like U2's song a great deal. And I used it in my sermon, but only to start us off. If we are going to speak about grace, we cannot get cought up in an image, a metaphor. There are too many limitations in even the best metaphor. U2's Grace is no different. In fact, it can be sexist if we are not careful. It can be used to suggest that a man cannot be gracefull...that it is not a quality of being a man. But the nurturing that is understood, the strength that is suggestedin U2's metaphor...that is worth holding on to.
I also spoke of my struggles in this ecumenical endeavor. Some in our congregation understand grace as something that can be received within the litugy. Communion, the church year, prayers for healing...these are vehicles for grace. I am always reminded of my baptistness in my relationship with these traditions. I need grace to uphold me as I participate in them. Liturgy, as much a s I have studied it and come to love it, as much as my "tastes" lean toward a high liturgy, is still like walking in a foreign land for me. It still feels like something extra. I think that this is because of how I relate to and understand grace. Yes, grace is a gift. Grace is something given to me. Right on, Paul. But I take it with me into worship. This seems to be a baptist particular.
Or, maybe it is just me.
Grace is found in a person. This is true. The metaphor that U2 provides is dead on with this. But grace has a name. He carries the world on his hip. It is my relationship with Christ that is grace-filled. It is how I am who I am. It is how I am created (John 1:1-18). I am created in and through grace. I am saved by Grace. Jesus, who is grace, saved me. Any evil action I may commit is actually a denial of my creation. It is a denial of who I am. If there is any condemnation to be had by my deeds it is found in that truth...the denial of my gracefull existance in God who created me in and through Grace.
If you were at Reconciler last night and heard this sermon, fire off an e-mail. I want to know what you heard in the sermon as well. I still don't have comments working here. And I know that I did not get it all down.