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Accepting Grace, Offering Grace, Living Grace — A Reflection

September 20, 2020

Since arriving in Carrollton nearly a month ago (wow, has time flown!) Denise and I have had several opportunities to explore the area and walk a small portion of the 17 mile Greenbelt which weaves its way around town. On our second ramble we saw so many butterflies and I was fortunate to receive this image of a yellow swallowtail butterfly. As we watched the butterflies dance in the air as they flew from one place to another, a sense of awe and peace was very present in our midst. That sort of peace is needed in the world and the church today.

As I read the Scripture readings for this Sunday, I was overcome by a sense of grace and awe. The awe comes, in part, from the fact that each time I engage with readings during the lectionary cycle Spirit reveals new things to me. Psalm 145:1-8 and Matthew 20:1-16 don’t seem to tie together that well when you first read them. Yet as I sat with them the connection appeared. 

The Psalmist is praising God and standing in awe of God’s handiwork. In verse five we read the following: On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. That pretty well described so many moments in our lives over the past five years when we lived in the Rocky Mountains. The splendor of the mountains and the four-legged neighbors who wandered through our neighborhood and who we were able to spend time with in the National Park was simply amazing. Friends remarked that you won’t find that kind of wonder in Georgia. Well, we haven’t run across any Elk or Moose, but the birds and the butterflies have been a wonder to behold and have captured my imagination and the imagination of my camera lens. We have been able to accept and explore that wonder and grace because our eyes and our hearts have been open to the possibilities. 

In much the same way, reading Matthew 20:1-16 with a heart open to the Spirit’s whisper, you can see the grace that is offered to the workers and, in turn, how we can offer that same grace in our lives. When the workers were hired, they knew what they were expecting to receive. The first workers expected the usual wage for a day’s work. The others who were subsequently hired throughout the day expected to get less than the daily wage. The workers hired at the last hour truly didn’t expect to get much at all, but they would at least be able to bring something home to their families.

Imagine the surprised looks and emotions the workers hired last had when they went forward to receive their pay. What? A full day’s pay for a very short period of work? Wow! Of course, as the others received their pay, the workers hired first expected to get more money than these late-comers. They were not at all happy with the landowner when he gave them the same pay as the others who had not worked all day. 

This was a lesson in grace for the workers and the landowner. It is a lesson in grace for us today. How can we Accept, Live, and Share such grace? I believe we are called to be examples of God’s extravagant love and grace in our daily living. Sometimes we are too stingy when it comes to sharing with others. Our God is a God of abundance and extravagance. Just as God gives and we receive; we are called to give with a spirit of gratitude and generosity. That is our challenge; that is our calling.

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