After the church service this morning a friend who is slightly younger that I am asked me how I am. Having just sat through a sermon on grace I quipped, “I’m a sinner saved by grace.” He smiled and said, “We’re all saved by grace.” Then he asked me how I felt about universalism. Again I quipped, “It sounds good to me.”
I had gone to church this morning with the state of the church on my mind. I wondered how a church could transition from a bloody atonement to a nonviolent atonement. So I was ready for a lenten service that had few references to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. To my mind the hymns we sang were remarkable for their content. They extolled the life of Jesus and the love and mercy of God and made no reference to the cross except for a few references to the symbols of wine and bread.
The children heard the story of the prodigal son. The character of the boy’s father was emphasized. This was followed by a sermon. The title was “When Grace Hurts” and I was determined to hear it. Besides, I didn’t want my new best friend to see me sleeping, nor did I want any one viewing the service on TV or computer to see me sleeping. But I fell asleep against my will during the first part of the sermon.
Midway through the sermon my eyes opened. I looked around the audience. That one person can see more people is one of the benefits of a round church. What I saw pleased me. I saw an audience of faces riveted on the preacher. Obviously he had their attention.
I heard the pastor argue that grace is viewed as impractical by the world and by much of the church. The fear is that the world’s economy would be harmed by grace. Yet, he urged us to move in the direction of our hope, for our christian hope points to a society full of grace. That is how I understood this morning’s sermon.
I saw more clearly the transition needed by the church for it to be faithful. Choose songs, tell stories to children, and preach sermons built on the life of Jesus. Let his life be preeminent.
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