“Tis grace has brought me safe thus far”

(Verse 3, line 3, Amazing Grace by John Newton)

John Newton wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” 250 years ago and it is still afavorite for serious occasions like funerals.  Newton shares his testimony and how he encountered the risen Christ we celebrate during the Easter season.  The word “me” takes the song to a different level. Grace was a very personal experience for Newton.  He is not attempting to express his theology.  “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” fits more into that genre.  The hymn “Were You There” is a deeply touching hymn about the crucifixion and resurrection, focusing on the historical event. “Holy, Holy, Holy” leads us into worship.  The word “me” in the third verse of Newton’s hymn reminds us of the many times Jesus was criticized for associating with “sinners,” people who were tax collector and prostitutes, sinners like “me.” 

         It reminds me of Jesus’ story of the two men who went to the temple to pray.  One was a Pharisee who raised his voice in praise.   “I thank you that I am not like other people –robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  Meanwhile standing at a distance, head lowered in shame, palms beating his breast, a tax collector prayed.  “God have mercy on me a sinner.”  Jesus said the tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home justified. (Luke 18:9-14)  One of the great truths of Easter is that all can experience grace personally, even a sinner like “me.”

         How is God’s grace experienced in the “me” of your life today?  Let’s try to write one sentence expressing how “grace has brought me safe thus far.”

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