Grace will lead

I distinctly remember the time that the lyrics from the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ made sense to me.  I was a teenager and had been suffering from anxiety and depression and had serious doubts as to God’s love for me. I carried a lot of guilt. I was beginning to learn about God’s grace and there it was:

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

I felt like I suddenly saw and so much shame and guilt were lifted.  Grace is something that I still depend on and that I continue to discover its wonders; something that is at the center of my call.  It’s funny though because I had another ‘eureka’ moment related to this hymn a couple days ago.  I was meeting for the last time in the children’s chapel of an Episcopal church with a woman who’d been my spiritual director for a year and a half, as I will be moving soon.  We were reflecting on the many things that had happened in the period of time that we were together — the pain I’d experienced, the many tears I’d shed, the rediscovering of grace, the growth I had experienced, and so on.  Then she said that she was reminded of a line from Amazing Grace:

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

I’m usually the one who connects things through songs, but I’d missed this.  I had not really focused on or connected with the verses of this hymn beyond the first verse.  It makes sense now;  I see it!  I’m thankful for God’s presence in the midst of the most recent times where I didn’t know if God was in fact there.  I’m thankful that I can continue to trust that when dangers, toils, and snares come again, God will bring me safe once more.  I pray that God will continue to pour out that grace that I so desperately need (and that I may receive it — I have trouble with this receiving step!) so that I can also pour out grace unto others.

Transitions, even good and desired ones, are difficult, so I’m thankful for grace that will lead me home through whatever the future holds.

Let’s pray:

God, cover us in your grace.  May it overflow.  May it so overflow that we may be able to offer it to others — remembering that it is unmerited and a gift.  Thank you for your presence.  Continue to guide, to heal, to stretch us; fill us anew with your Spirit.  Lead us safely home.  Amen.

My view during my meetings with my spiritual director.

My view during my meetings with my spiritual director.

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Show off, God

In reading Church history and current news, hearing stories, and experiencing things in my several years in ministry, I don’t know how the Church has lasted as long as it has.   That’s not true, I do.  I do because I personally, frequently pray to God that God work despite me.  And thanks be to God, God does.  The Holy Spirit is why the Church has lasted and will continue to live – despite us.

As we prepare to launch a new service at Trinity, this prayer comes to mind.  Not because I don’t think it’ll be awesome.  Not because we don’t have a talented, hard working team.  Not because we haven’t been diligent and worked hard for months to prepare for this launch.  I’m really excited about this new service and I’m really proud of the hard-working Modern Worship team.  Yet, my prayer is that God show off.  I’ve noticed in my own life that God’s dreams are often more audacious and grander than anything I can come up with.  I’ve seen in my own life that God speaks words of healing to people through some of my worst sermons.  I’ve experienced that on days that I feel particularly inadequate God somehow uses me to offer words of encouragement and love.   So, I pray that despite our best efforts, God shows off even more.  The truth is that the best that we can wish for this service (or any ministerial endeavor) is tiny compared to how much God wants us to accomplish transformational things with the help of the Holy Spirit.  The truth is that all of the stuff that’s worthwhile is accomplished by God and not by me.  So my prayer is and will continue to be that God be glorified, and that people come to know God’s transforming love, grace, redemption, and mercy.  God, show off – amen.

-Esther

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