At home in our dining room we have this picture on the wall that says;
‘Grace isn't a little prayer you say before receiving a meal, it is a way to live’.
Many of us will have been ‘encouraged’ to say grace as a child and its seen as way of saying thank you for the food we eat. However, growing up my two younger brothers just viewed it as an obstacle that delayed us eating, so would have competitions to see who come come up with the shortest and fastest grace possible and that was still permissible by our mum. Obviously, being a future Vicar I wasn’t involved in this (much!). My brother completely owned this though, by holding up his pasta one evening and shouting ‘cheers God’! In a loud voice, before proceeding to eat before my mum could say anything! We were stunned, how could we be quicker than that? The competition had ended.
Its good to be thankful but my picture is correct, in the context of my faith grace is much more than that. Of course, our thankfulness often corresponds to how much we are being given, doesn’t it? It’s one thing to be thankful for our dinner, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we are faced with a buffet of magnificent food. Its great to be thankful for this amazing life we share, but it takes on whole new meaning when we face a significant moment in our lives.
That’s why grace is an important part of being a Christian, it considers how thankful we are for the most significant part of our life, where we come from. Grace is a reminder for me how much we are loved and owned by God. Yes, I know that I am constantly telling everybody about God’s love and you are probably thinking ‘here he goes again’! But read on.. because the kind of love I am talking about is much more than something that can give us a warm , fluffy feeling inside.
God’s love for us is simply outrageous. It's crazy, its extravagant, it's out of order, its astronomical. its...
Get what I mean?
Jesus talked about it a lot, told parables about people going horribly wrong and doing incredibly stupid things, only to come home and find God waiting for them with open arms. There is no way we deserve it, but God still gives it. Freely. Lets be honest, there are all times when we feel horrible because we know we messed up deliberately, hurt that person we love or withheld information we knew would help somebody else. We often carry around those burdens without even realising it for years. God weeps beside us when that happens, and is waiting for us to turn to him for a fresh start. No strings attached. That is the love and grace of God.
It’s pretty mind blowing when you think about it!
So confession time, I do not force grace upon my own children at dinner times but I do try and encourage them to be thankful for what we have. I am thankful for them and pretty sure that no human in the world loves them more than I do. I would do anything for them, even when they really don’t deserve it. Thats why Jesus called God ‘our father’; whatever you are going though he just wants to take you in his arms and say 'I have this'.
There is nothing you can do or say, that will make God love you any less.