Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Unconditional Grace of God Bridges Division & Disagreement

Acts 15:1-41 & Acts 16:11-15 by Rev. Susan Lukey
Series:From Disciple to Apostle - A Journey through the Book of Acts

Each Sunday I begin worship by greeting you with the words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ….be with you.” What does that mean exactly – when I wish you and bless you with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was reading through Acts chapters15 & 16 this week, each time I read through the phrase that popped out for me was “the grace of the Lord Jesus.” Peter declares that they all will be saved, healed and blessed through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Later, when the believers in Antioch are saying farewell to Paul and Silas as they set out, they commend the two to the grace of the Lord. It is a phrase that is core to the Christian tradition: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Words of greeting, blessing and farewell – but what exactly are we wishing each other with these words? The word grace in Hebrew is chen. It’s root meaning is to bend or stoop in kindness to another, especially a superior stooping to help someone inferior. In Greek, the word grace is charis ????? which speaks of a manner of acting or an attitude of the heart rooted in gratitude, compassion and mercy. Out of these root words, grace came to refer to unmerited favour, unconditional love, goodness and mercy that is offered freely and joyfully. Grace can not be earned. It also is not taken away because we have done something wrong. So when I greet you with the words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” and you reply, “and also with you,” we are declaring that we believe that each of us is enfolded in the unconditional, freely given, love and compassion of God which we know through Jesus. What a beautiful thing! And what an amazing thing for the followers of Jesus to wish each other when you consider what was happening between them at the time.
Duration:14 mins 15 secs