Literally a benediction is a ‘good word.’ An expressed hope or prayer for a person or a group, usually spoken at a parting, something you want others to take with them. Or at the end of a letter.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
This was the apostle Paul’s benediction to the Christians in Corinth at the end his second letter, usually read over quickly and given little attention. The period after thirteen chapters (2 Corinthians 13:14).
At the Gathering Church this Sunday, we will begin to use this statement as our syllabus for the start of the school year. It has some very good words in it.
It outlines what God imagines for our lives
- the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
- the love of God
- the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
This Sunday, we start with ‘grace,’ word that Christians learn early that has to do with receiving God’s underserved acceptance and care apart from anything we can do.
But, here’s the thing: it’s a lot easier to define the word than it is to describe how we actually experience its reality in ordinary life.
God imagines the experience.
And it’s the experience that sets us free. I mean, like crazy free. Like Jesus. Before we ever meet Jesus in the Gospel of John he is described as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The message about him is summarized as “the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
It’s a big word. Bigger than just what gets us right with God, which is huge enough. It’s the word that describes how we can get right with ourselves and with those we love. It’s the word that explains the good things that can come out of us to care for a broken world.
But, how do we experience and express grace in a world based on performance and achievement? How can grace save us from having to protect ourselves and promote ourselves? How is it possible to actually grow in grace?
Let’s start this Sunday.
Also, this Sunday we welcome university students who have come to our area and we kick-off the Kids Program. Plan to stay for a hotdog and hamburger cookout after the service.