Today’s sermon, “Amazing Grace,” includes reference to our Children’s Time (this is what Anne, our wonderful scripture reader, is playfully referencing when the recording begins). In case you weren’t here, the Children’s Time was about two different historic theological ideas about grace. The children were given two boxes representing the two ideas. I told them each box contained what they needed to receive God’s grace or love, according to these two ideas. They opened the first box to find a scroll many feet long with a list on it of things to do. They read: Be Nice to Your Sister; Clean Your Room; Say Thank You More; Be Generous. (And then they sighed and gave up – the list was nearly 20 feet long.) This list, we said, is what people who held this idea believed we had to do to receive God’s grace or God’s love. (This is Works Righteousness or Justification by Works, in case you’re following along with your theology dictionary).

The second box contained one piece of paper that said only, “Nothing! God’s love is a gift given freely!” The box was also full of party horns. (Sanctification by Grace, for you theology nerds).

We asked the children which idea they thought our church believed, and they of course correctly chose the gift box and party horns. We passed the horns out, celebrated that God loves us just because God is God, and no matter what we do, and said a prayer thanking God for grace, with the children blowing their horns every time I said the word “grace.” You can imagine I said grace a lot, and you can imagine it was joyful!

Want to join the joy? We’d love to see you here any Sunday at 10am. All are welcome.

Works Cited in this Sermon:

John Newton’s reflection on his own troublesome ways is quoted from “The Works of the Rev. John Newton, Last Pastor of the United Parishes of St. Mary Woolnoth and St. Mary Wool-Church-Haw, Lombard Street, London.” (R. Carter, 1847). It can be accessed online here.

And that favorite writing of mine on grace, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you,” is published in Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 34.

“Amazing Grace,” is of course written by John Newton.