Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor

Grace Is Not A Blue-Eyed Blonde.

So read the title of a book that sat on my parents’ bookshelf when I was a kid.

As a seven- or eight-year old, I was attracted to the book by its title.

But when I pulled it off the shelf and opened it, it didn’t look interesting at all – just a book with lots of words on white pages.
When I asked my dad about what the title meant, he responded with something like, “Grace is a gift from God. It’s God’s love given to us when we don’t deserve it.”
I accepted my dad’s answer without much understanding, and I certainly didn’t understand why a blue-eyed blonde would have anything to do with it.

As Pastor Caroline shared in her First Reflection last week (No strings attached, January 24, 2019), grace is often difficult to understand. 

As we grow in faith and belief, we learn words to help us talk about grace: “unmerited,” “prevenient,” “justified.”

But the whole notion of God’s grace can seem elusive and hard to describe in spite of the lofty vocabulary.
Until we experience that grace deep within us in a place where words fail.
One place I often experience God’s grace is at the communion table.

The words we say as we celebrate communion – the Eucharistic prayer – pave the way for the experience of communion itself.
We speak of Christ’s body and blood, and that night of the Last Supper becomes real and present.
There is a subtle “pop” of the bread when the loaf is torn, and a release of yeasty aroma.

The grapey dark purple of the juice stains the bread when dipped.
Somehow we are drawn into communion together, receiving these grape juice-stained bits of bread.

Sharing those bits of food and drink raises us into a shared experience of God’s Spirit that can only be acted out and practiced.

The sharing can’t be adequately described with words; the experience is too deep for such.
We are gifted by God’s grace in the partaking of the bread and cup, pure and simple, deeply and profoundly.

That grace mysteriously ties us together into one, arching over difference and division, weaving us together into God’s Spirit.
And there’s not a thing we do to bring this about.

We just receive it with open hands, and offer gratitude for the grace that falls on and around us.

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