“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.”

Verse 1

         Yesterday we pondered the first words of that famous hymn, “Amazing Grace” written by John Newton.  Grace is receiving that which we know we do not deserve.  Newton knew he was lost and about to die as he tied himself to the helm of his slave ship to navigate after 11 days in a storm at sea.  He knew he had made bad choices and was not living as his better self as he cried out to God.  Many testimonials have a flavor of the dramatic like this.

         We looked at the famous parable, the Prodigal Son, Jesus told of two brothers.  The younger demands his inheritance and leaves only to squander it making bad choices.  He “comes to himself” and realizes he would be better off being a slave in his father’s house and returns home to be met by a loving father who greets him with open arms, a forgiving heart and a wonderful feast.  Undeserved grace heals rebellion.  Amazing.  But the story does not end there. 

         The father leaves the party and meets the older brother who is grumbling outside.  He is the one who has not squandered his inheritance but who has worked hard and faithfully to prove he deserves rewards.  He is not rebellious but is resentful and bitter about his brother.  The older brother is MIA, missing in action, or we might say, missing in actions to prove he is good enough for the father’s grace.  He too is missing the point.  The father responds, “32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”’

         It is easy to point fingers at the wayward person who seems to be making all the wrong choices like John Newton or the younger brother but many of us may be like the older brother.  Others may not see our shortcomings but we know they are there in our life.  Our relationship with the Father is just as problematic as the overtly rebellious.  Lent brings us to the point of facing our human failings, our need for a savior.  Easter offers us amazing grace with a God who conquers death and forgives our wrongs.  Jesus lives and wants to help us become our better selves, not to earn grace, but out of a loving relationship and the free gift of grace.

         Yesterday we opened our hands, palms up, as we prayed for the world.  Today let us open our hands, palms up, as we pray for the sins of our hearts that impact our lives and our world – greed, prejudice, jealousy, deceit, and pride.  The father reaches out to the younger brother and to the older brother.  The father reaches out to John Newton and to us today.  Jesus is risen and wanting to walk with you and me.  Amazing grace.

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