We Are About Relationships
Yeah, I know this sounds a little like the bumper sticker that suggests the opposite, but it’s true. Grace does happen. A lot. Maybe more than the other stuff happens. I’m not suggesting this because my work revolves a lot around grace, although it does. I’m saying it because it happens to me. A lot.
So, the week I am writing this is one of those weeks. At the risk of sharing too much about myself, I’m feeling a little, I don’t know, off. Somewhere between edgy and cranky (credgy, maybe?) And, for some reason known only to God and Martha Beck (a life coach specializing in why we eat when we’re not hungry), I decided that what I really need right now is to eliminate breads from my diet. Not forever. Just until I feel less credgy, lose 10 pounds, or pass the Krispy Kreme place with the hot light on (all bets are off then).
Sometimes my best ideas (read: worst ideas) are challenged by the gift of grace from God. As a professional servant minister, I specialize in offering grace to others, in the form of music, pastoral care, comic relief, occasional child care, and various baked goods. Like many clergy, I am not always adept at receiving grace from others. So, on this week when I decided that the answer to all my woes was to eliminate breads, God had other ideas.
I’m at staff meeting, drinking my water and planning my bread-free lunch for later. Then, some very precious people came to the meeting bearing gifts for the pastors. The O’Dell children have the practice of doing a regular act of service for others. They decided to serve the pastors by bringing fresh homemade scones, with butter, cream cheese, and jam. Who could say no to that?!?! Especially with little Sofjya walking around showing us a picture she had drawn “for the pastors.” BTW, the scones were amazing! Who says a life of ministry doesn’t pay?
Later that same day, I did a favor for a friend. It doesn’t matter what that favor was except to say it was good for me as well. My friend was recovering from surgery and hadn’t been out of the house for a while, so I picked him up and took him out. As we were heading for home, an acquaintance of ours surprised us by saying she had a loaf of bread for each of us. “I was making homemade bread today, not knowing who it was for, but I knew if I brought it with me, God would show me who I needed to give it to.” She gave one to my friend as a get well gift, and one to me for being nice. Now, I will say that grace in the form of two bread gifts on the same day is unusual. Thank God! But these gifts reminded me how grace happens over and over again, especially if we look for it and receive it gratefully.
Next week around 50 of our youth and adults will be offering grace in the form of music, service, and fellowship in an annual event known as Choir Tour. The Joyful Noise Youth Choir and adult leaders are traveling to the Indianapolis area where we will be singing our program – “Grace Happens” (what a coincidence!) – in two emergency shelters, a retirement home, and a center for adults with developmental disabilities. I know from experience that the program and attention our youth offer to those we sing for is a means of grace for those attending. But I also know that the grace we receive from those we sing for and talk with far outweigh any grace we offer. That’s the nature of grace – when we offer it, we often receive more than we give.
So your job while we are gone: pray for us, that we will be means of grace and receive the blessing of grace. Also, please come to our homecoming worship concert June 15 at both morning services. Finally, look for those moments of grace in your life, every day. It may not be of the bread variety, but it will happen. A lot!