Highlight: A Path to Transition

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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About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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4 Responses to Highlight: A Path to Transition

  1. Miriam says:

    “The fear is that the world’s economy would be harmed by grace.”

    Yesterday, as I skimmed through some old correspondence with friends (a treat granted by spring break), I encountered a thought shared by a dear friend of mine from the Southern Baptist tradition: that faith and fear are polar opposites.

    I tend to agree. And I would suggest that, to the extent there is truth in that thought, it behooves people of faith to attend to their fears with greatest care. Such a spiritual discipline may reveal more and heal more than other tools we have learned to wield with precision.

    Perhaps shining Light on fear is all we need to do to open space for Love to enter and make us even more useful.

    • Thanks. Just about the time I wonder if anyone is really hearing me I get helpful comments. My webmaster told me that it takes time to trust enough to build a community willing to comment.

  2. Raymond Martin says:

    Is universalism much talked about where you worship? I have not heard it adressed publically in a long time. Though grace is preached and very alive in our worship. 50 years ago universalism was just wrong. I heard it from teachers and preachers. Yet I always appreciated Paul’s Rom. 14:11 quoting Isa. 45:23 (the prophet who seemed to know God’s redeeming love so thoroughly and preaches such compelling invitations)and felt these proclamations that every knee will bow, sound like universalism. I cannot believe that forced bowing could be to God’s glory. (but that is what I used to hear) Paul does this in the context of warning against judging others.
    I also noticad that liberals who believed universalism were more ready to believe Jesus non-violent teaching.
    So, I agree. Sounds pretty good to me too. Incidentally. C. Norman Krause in GOD OUR SAVIOR, P.212 f.f. offers good help to sort this out.

  3. No, universalism is not preached from the pulpit that I know of but it is discussed off the pulpit as a part of nonviolent atonement.

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