Sunday, June 24, 2012

i've heard the word 
grace all my life.
i was taught 
"grace" is the one theological concept 
that made us presbyterians unique...
especially among those of us growing up in the south. 

i've now lived in 
texas, kentucky, arkansas, and tennessee
all who claim to be in the
bible belt region of 

i haven't lived in the buckle of the belt
but i lived close enough
thank you very much. 

many people who joined
the church where i grew up...
(first presbyterian church in conroe, texas)
said they joined because of grace...

that their last experience in church 
had not been grace filled nor grace focused
and they were filled with new hope and life
because presbyterians had the courage to 
talk about and live grace. 

i suppose people like me 
who grew up in the presbyterian church...
even in less progressive areas of the country
have taken grace for granted
so much so 
that we have failed to speak and live grace
in this particular era 
when many in the presbyterian church 
have chosen 
righteousness over 
and above grace. 

"those who seek righteousness
are welcome to the table."

this was the pastor's invitation
to the table that does not belong to him
but to the one we call 
our LORD and SAVIOR. 

it seems this righteousness over grace emphasis
leaves some in the church believing 
they have the ability and authority 
to judge if and when 
a person is seeking righteousness,
is living in a righteous manner
and whether or not it is appropriate 
for him or her to fully feast in GOD'S kingdom.

faith centered on grace
rather than righteousness
is exactly why i chose not to leave 
the presbyterian church.

you see, around the waist of CHRIST...

(especially in the bible belt region
but also in other parts of the body, 
because now i live in new jersey...
though i'm reminded often 
that i still live below the mason-dixon line
and even in new jersey 
bible belt mentality is alive and well.)

...there is an over 
abundance of folks feasting 
on "righteousness" as if it were 
the sole gift GOD came to offer. 

i for one 
made a choice 
a long time ago
to remain in the presbyterian church because 
of the emphasis and the celebration of 
GOD'S unconditional grace....

i experienced first hand
the down side of  "righteousness" based believing.

i finally read the small print...
the side effects that come 
with over dosing on 
focused faith.  

i made a choice
to remain rooted in grace
despite the charges from those who 
root themselves in righteousness.  

by GOD'S grace
and GOD'S grace alone...
i am accepted and claimed a child of GOD.
jesus the christ 
did what i could never do.

i am welcomed to the table 
to feast...
to fully feast 
on the gifts of hope and life
so are you. 

GOD'S grace is not cheap...
is not superficial 
and is not secondary or weak.

GOD'S grace
comes with the overabundance of love
love that will not 
let go...
love that cannot be broken. 

i pray 
the church i serve
will run into the direction of 
GOD'S grace
especially as we prepare to 
gather in the city of pittsburgh
to discuss, debate and vote.

No comments: