Gracious Grace

Crash! “Oh, no! I didn’t know that was there!”
“Goodness gracious! What happened now?!”
Responding with good grace we cleaned up the mess together.

Ever been in a situation like that? … I was thinking about how we use the words grace and gracious in so many ways. Handy for many circumstances! “Grace” is the middle name we gave our daughter and “gracious” is literally “filled with God’s grace”. They are beautiful words rich in meaning.

What thoughts or pictures do these two words bring to your mind? Perhaps you think of love, kindness, goodwill, forgiveness, generosity, and maybe a certain ease or elegance…

Can you think of some positive uses of these words? Maybe you have another saying or proverb. Here in the south, we “say grace” when we offer thanks to God before a meal. We are grateful when we have “gracious plenty”, whether that is something physical, emotional, or spiritual. A person’s “saving grace” is some quality about them that balances or makes up for not-so-great qualities. Responding “with good grace”, with patience and politeness, is a good attribute to pursue! Whom of us have not appreciated a “grace period” for some overdue or forgotten responsibility or chore? “Goodness gracious” fills many a need for expressions of surprise, dismay, or awe… Sometimes there are just no other words.

What about some other phrases that express our needs or mistakes?! “By the grace of God” acknowledges our own need for God, as well as our humility and our compassion for others who are in difficult circumstances. We all “fall from grace” at times, losing favor or the liking of others, whether it is a word misspoken or unsaid, miscommunication, or any number of perceived or real shortcomings.

I can relate to Paul as he talked about grace in his letters to the church in Corinth. He said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect” *(1 Corinthians 15:10). He reminds us that it’s God’s grace that brings life and that we need to extend that grace to others. Paul called this the “grace of giving”. Isn’t that a wonderful way of putting it?!

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:7

My prayers for us all is that even as we receive God’s awesome gift of grace, we will also excel in this grace of giving.

Charlotte-Anne Allen

Share your thoughts!

Reflections on Brakes

  • Days are full of starting and stopping
  • Slowing down allows space for thought and resolution
  • Gaining speed brings us to new places
  • Look ahead to determine impact, needs, and goals
  • Checking the rear mirror keeps us alert to approaching situations
  • Resist danger by being prepared to brace yourself
  • Sometimes change is indicated or is thrust upon you
  • Timing of actions and words can be critical
  • In times of change, you may need to slow before continuing
  • Be alert to oncoming traffic when facing challenges
  • Digging in your heels makes it difficult to make progress
  • Keep aware of others and the impact you may have
  • Early warnings help us to prepare or to change course
  • The Conductor provides guidance in applying and letting up on the brakes

from “Reflections from the Everyday”

Look Up!

sky n contrails_countryside-384624_1280_Skitterians_pixabay

“Listen! What’s that?!” The child that was me craned her neck and shielded her eyes as she searched the sky for a passing airplane or helicopter… If conditions were right, I could follow the trails of high-flying jets or passenger planes as they painted a pattern through the air. I sometimes felt a little dizzy as I focused on the world above me.

There were so many things to discover while looking up, elusive songbirds in the trees, majestic mountain ranges as we traveled for a weekend of camping, and ever-changing cloud formations to catch the imagination. Church steeples all around rose above the surrounding buildings… proclaiming the hour, chiming music, or directing our eyes and thoughts to heaven above.

The Bible uses a lot of images about “looking up” and “going up.” That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it, as we think of God on high?! A favorite verse from the Book of Psalms, (a “Song of Ascents” that was sung as people went up to worship) says, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.*  Jesus looked up when praying to his Father, when blessing the loaves and fish, and when giving thanks.

When I look up into the sky by day or night or up into a majestic old tree, there is a sense of being a part of a great thing. As I look out and up at rolling mountain ranges, I am a small speck in God’s vastness. Think back or imagine yourself as a small child looking up at your parents, teachers, or others. The whole world takes on a different perspective!

I think too of how I can be focused on my own thoughts or schedule and I fail to look up and see others around me, to be aware of their needs, struggles, or celebrations. Sometimes I have allowed my self-focus to block out my awareness of others. In the book of Luke there is a story about a short man named Zacchaeus who had difficulty seeing too.* I think his difficulty involved more than his height! When Jesus came into into the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus in a tree craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus saw more than the outside of Zacchaeus perched in that tree, didn’t he?! When Jesus offered him fellowship, Zacchaeus’ life took a dramatic turn. After he came down from that tree, he looked up and found Jesus who showed him a better way and who saw him as a person of value and worth.

My prayer for us is that we will look up and see God ever before us. May he open our eyes and widen our view so that we can see the worth and value of others, just as Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus. In so doing, perhaps we will begin to hear, above the roofs and the clamor of the world, the chiming of music… and to give and receive the gift of fellowship. Look up!

Psalm 121:1, Luke 19 

Reflections on Twist-Ties

TwistTies

• Twist-Ties can be straight or bent.
• Standing straight declares a purpose.
• Sometimes we just need to bend.
• When we bend, our shape is changed.
• Different shapes fill different needs.
• Bending down allows full service.
• Twist-Ties help secure the contents.
• The colors declare the day of offering.
• Daily offerings of nourishment are beneficial.
• The one who provides, helps to shape us all.
• The Shaper welcomes who we are.