During my research for the sermon (one of my very favorite sermon-related activities), I came across a wonderful idea in a book titled To Love as God Loves by Roberta C. Bondi. In one powerful and moving section, she discusses the sources of God's grace [the unconditional, comprehensive, empowering love of God for the world fully manifested in Jesus Christ and present in the world through the Holy Spirit, to get technical] toward us, consider this signs from God that we are loved and encouragements from God to keep us moving forward in life. In the ancient world of early Christianity (and we can learn much today from that world), one of the chief sources of grace(following baptism, communion, and prayer) was (and remains) other people. Grace from God comes to us through other people. Monks in the old days considered others who were far different from themselves and believed far differently from themselves to be very valuable sources of grace from whom much could be learned. How different does that sound from today's world in which we tend to dismiss those who disagree with us on any small thing (or large thing to be inclusive) out of hand and refuse to learn from them?
Open your eyes, mind, and heart to God's many kindnesses [graces] in your life. Grace doesn't come once and abandon you afterwards. Grace from God keeps coming at you. Embrace that grace, that love of God, when it comes and learn from it. Let other people help you along the way. God loves you and has put them in your path to help you along life's often difficult journey. You have been put in other peoples' paths for the very same purpose. It's a wonderful concept and can teach us much if we are open to it. It can remind us every day that we are loved by God, for who among us, whether rampant extrovert (like me) or thoughtful introvert or anyone in between, does not live interdependently with others each and every day. We in the US like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists living independent lives as captains of our own ships and fates ... and that pretty concept works well enough when things go right. But, when the lights go out in a power failure we are reminded just how interdependent we are on the work, skill, and knowledge of others just to keep our homes and offices humming along. I personally want to thank all the skilled men and women who got all the power lines up within hours of a microburst hitting our town. Thirty-five streets had downed lines and downed trees. They were for us who were heading into the night in the dark a definite grace from God and we really appreciated their efforts that night.
We are all beloved children of God. God seeks us out when we are lost. God celebrates when we are found and returned to God's loving fold. And all along the way, God showers us with love, often through the kindness of others, the advice of others, the help of others, to put it succinctly, through others! And we are called to return that love by being graces for others we meet each and every day.
I hope you have a blessed day ... and have the opportunity to both be blessed by others and be a blessing to others!
Here's one example where we were grace to another: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/12/good-news-from-christianity-be-prepared.html