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“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”
“This Is My Father’s World”
“Be Thou My Vision”
God our Shepherd,
with you we have no fear,
you guide us a comfort us wherever life takes us,
through green pastures and dark valleys,
you are there beside us.
Guide us onward in the path you have set for us,
confident in you so that we may not fear to love another,
that we will not fear vulnerability, weakness, or brokenness,
but rather make ourselves vulnerable for others,
so that all may know your beautiful grace and love.
We pray in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
I’m shoving these two scriptures together, because there’s something I want to say about God’s grace. No, this is not the Sunday I finally snap and say “God is a communist” and point to this scripture as proof of that.
Jesus tells us to love one another as he loves us, as God loves us. He says, love your enemies. But sometimes this is too hard for us. Sometimes people just try to make themselves unloveable. Sometimes a person is our enemy because there is too much trauma in the relationship for us to love them.
But it is not too hard for God’s love.
The difference between grace and love:
God’s love is love, and it is graceful love
But grace is because we aren’t or we don’t feel we deserve it,
mercy and forgiveness when we go astray,
compassion for weakness and non-judgement
We are called to emulate this as much as we can;
we aren’t perfect, we will always find ourselves judging others,
unconsciously, unaware of our prejudices and biases,
our stereotypes of race, gender, identity that remain hidden until they are challenged,
but we are called to try.
God’s love is not simply love;
not the kind of love you give to your children or even to strangers,
but it is radically inclusive,
it loves the unloveable.
This is why Calvin called it “irresistible grace;”
human beings do not do the saving,
Human beings do not give unconditional love,
God gives it through human beings.
The Church has often taught this as
there’s nothing we can do to be worthy of God’s love;
we’re all sinners,
none of us “deserve” God’s love.
But the flip side of that
is that there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves unworthy,
none of us deserve God’s hatred or indifference,
no one is outside of God’s grace.
Whoever we are, no matter what spiritual place we find ourselves,
God’s grace pursues us and finds us.
In another psalm (139), the psalmist cries,
“Even if I make by bed in Sheol (hell), you are there,
if I take the wings of morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall guide me.”
God’s goodness and mercy pursues us,
nothing takes it away from us.
God’s love is the most powerful thing in the universe,
so to believe that there’s anything we can do to deny it
or make ourselves unlovable to God,
that doesn’t make sense.