When I was in high school I brought home a "boy friend" for dinner. My father, a pastor, planned to say the grace before the meal. We bowed our heads and I'm pretty sure my friend was steeling himself for the long haul. Instead Dad prayed, "Rubba dub dub, thanks for the grub. amen"
That's not the kind of grace that is the subject of the lectionary texts this week. Grace is always God's prerogative and grace is always God's nature. "Grace is your sign, gift of forgiveness, chalice that changes water to wine." from God In Your Grace sung at the WCC ninth General Assembly in Brazil a couple years ago. Pseudo-Paul writes a slightly modified summary of Pauline theology in Ephesians chapter 2, but it is beautiful if slightly modified from Romans.
"But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that God made us alive with Christ, and God's wonderful kindness is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and God has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so that in the future world God could show how truly good and kind God is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. " CEVOr as my Lutheran classmates are born saying, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." NRSV
So what of the works that we Brethren like to immerse ourselves in? We are saved BY grace FOR works. Yup, so simple.
But not so simple to live. peripatao is a favorite sounding Greek verb meaning to walk around; or to live. "Walk This Way" would've been a great Brethren slogan if Aerosmith hadn't taken it for the song.
Easy to say,
fun to sing,
hard to do.
The powers that Pauls speaks of (as so does the pseudo-pauline author of Ephesians) are real and we begin a faithful following or "walk" by admitting so. (Adam Eckhart, Feasting On The Word) We practice our faithfulness by naming the specific powers that influence our unique communities of faith. Consumerism is high on the list of late and it seems the "Powers" believe that more consumerism will free us from where consumerism has landed us. We are to 'spend our way out' of the recession. whoopeee!
We might also share some honest stories of how susceptible we are to the powers that so prevail around us. Let's meet in the weeks ahead and tell the stories of how this recession has hurt and even where we've contributed to the downfall ourselves.
Then we might find in our weakness that God has a way of using us, uniting us and helping us stand TOGETHER against the 'Powers That Be'. When we do so, with God's help and God's grace, we'll be walking the talk, peripatao, walking and living Jesus' way.