Define grace – what would you say? What is grace? There are many definitions:
– beauty of motion or form – she moves gracefully. His manners are full of grace. He gracefully manoeuvered the situation. These meanings speak of attractive qualities.
– grace can refer to a title – “Your Grace,” we say when we’re addressing a Duke or Duchess, Archbishop or Bishop.
– “Thank you for your words of grace,” we may say. Words of compliment. Words honouring us.
– grace can mean acting appropriately. “He had the grace to go.”
– grace can refer to a service freely rendered – an act of goodwill. “Thank you for your act of grace.” It can mean a courtesy. An act of clemency or mercy. You’re given unexpected leniency or forgiveness. Your may not deserve it. You may not be expecting it. You are given the gift of another chance, or an extension of time, or perhaps the cancellation of a debt, monetary or otherwise. You are reprieved. Your dignity is restored. “Thank you for your act of grace,” we say. Your well-being has been considered.
– we say “grace” before a meal. “Please say grace,” we ask. What do we mean, say “grace?” We are giving thanks to God, praise to God, for our food, and we are asking God for a blessing. Bless our food, we say. We acknowledge God’s goodness and bounty given to us. We acknowledge God’s grace given to us. “Saying grace” acknowledges God’s grace to us.
– the act of grace is showing favour.
Video – the dog rescue.
When you watched the video, did you think of the rescue as an act of grace? We thought of kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy, but did you think of grace? The dog rescue is an act of grace. Was the dog deserving? We don’t know how it got there. Was it in danger? Yes. Could it go down-stream, or up-stream, or move anywhere to safety? No. Did the rescue team go out on a limb to save it? Yes. Were they in danger? Yes. But the dog’s life is considered. Its well-being is considered. It is an act of mercy to rescue it. It is an act of grace.
The act of God’s grace is showing favour… God’s love expressed toward humanity. It is the divine influence intervening and operating within humanity. Godly grace is holy and pleasing – a state of divinely-inspired virtue or excellence.
Bible: – we see examples of grace over and over.
-Mary’s response to angel Gabriel – asked to bear a child conceived by the Holy Spirit –
“Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” These are words of grace. Mary is willing to be part of God’s plan. God intervened with humanity through Mary. God’s grace was given to Mary.
– book of Philemon in our New Testament is little known and little read – a very short letter – the story of a run-away slave called Onesimus, who was in service to Philemon, but Onesimus has apparently stolen from his master and run away. Under Roman law, this crime was punishable by death. But Onesimus meets the Apostle Paul, who converts him to Christianity, and Onesimus now wants to return to his master and make things right. Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon with a letter asking him to accept Onesimus not as a slave, but as a Christian brother. Paul is asking Philemon to extend grace to Onesimus.
– the apostle Paul himself discovered God’s grace in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Paul had previously based his salvation on observing the strict Jewish laws and customs of his upbringing – but Paul discovers that God’s favour and salvation weren’t founded on these. On the Damascus road, Jesus speaks to Paul in a vision, and Paul becomes not only a believer but an ambassador for Christ. His life changes dramatically through the Godly grace extended to him.
Grace is God’s unmerited favour. It is kindness from God. There is nothing we have done, or ever can do, to earn this favour. It is a gift from God. God’s favour and kindness are directed towards humanity in the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3: 16. We will not perish. We will be saved. Just like the helpless dog in the video who had nowhere to turn. We can become caught in the torrent, the turmoil, of our own lives, of our short-comings, failings, our wrong decisions, our sins, and the confusion which life events and circumstances present. We can get caught, just like the dog, not knowing where to turn or what direction to take. We become afraid. But we have a Saviour. God sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus, “Immanuel,” means “God with us.” The salvation, the grace of God towards humanity, is experienced in Christ. God’s unconditional love, mercy, favour, peace, forgiveness, joy, and all Godly truths are experienced through and in Jesus His Son. We ask the Spirit of Jesus to live within us, and save us, and His Spirit promises to guide and direct. “Lo, I am with you always,” says Jesus, “even unto the end of the age,” Matt. 28: 20.
Jesus is God’s act of grace given to all humanity.
On this All Saints Sunday, we celebrate the faith and witness of Christian saints who have passed on ahead of us, and we celebrate the saints alive among us today – all believers in Jesus Christ. May we testify to our faith and pass on our witness. It is crucial that we do so. May we be true and faithful witnesses to Jesus, God’s most wonderful gift of grace given to the world and given to each one of us. May we “live” grace. May we exemplify, honour, witness to, and revere the daily grace of God in our lives. Amen.