Sunday, June 6, 2010

What Now?

Two boys are resuscitated. One grown man is transformed. Did any of them earn the gift they received? It was a gift, wasn’t it?

Who was the beneficiary of this free gift? Was it the boys and the man or the mothers of the two boys and the people who were no longer persecuted? Who benefited from this gift of God’s grace? Why were they chosen to receive this grace?

For that matter why does God grant any of us his grace? We surely don’t deserve it. But God gives us grace anyway. What do we do now?

Two widows got their sons back. Without their sons they would have had no one to provide for them. They could have ended up homeless or slaves to some wealthy Roman or Jew. And then they may have thought it would have been better to die.

Saul was on the road to Damascus to catch some more people of the Way doing what he felt was blasphemy against God’s chosen church, and his chosen people. On the way he encountered Jesus. What took place on the road and later is a real mystery but Saul was definitely changed. No longer did he seek to persecute people of the Way but he became one of their strongest advocates as he preached the gospel all over the East and Middle East; wherever God directed and nudged him to go. Not only was his name changed but he was recreated into the man God always planned for him to be, doing what God had prepared him for.

So, what now? What do we do now? God grants his grace whenever, wherever, to whoever he deems to give it. I believe everyone, all of us, still tries to earn this gift. I believe that each of us, when we receive God’s grace, try to imagine how we can repay God for the gift. We can’t believe that God would give us his grace because we know, deep in our souls, that we aren’t worthy to receive it. So, what do we do now?

The widows probably asked themselves that question. Paul may have been asking himself that question until Ananias explained to him what God had told him. Paul was the chosen one to go out and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Because Paul accepted that responsibility we are blessed with God’s grace right here in Walnut, Iowa. If he had refused the assignment God gave him I wonder what the world would be like today.

What do we do now with God’s gift of grace to us? What do we do when God gives us his free gift of grace? What did these folks do when they received God’s grace? The gospel lesson says that the boy sat up and talked. I wonder what he said. The people who witnessed his resuscitation were quietly worshipful and then noisily grateful. They were excited to discover that God was there, right there in their presence.

The widow from Zarephath was also grateful and afterwards was sure that God listened when Elijah spoke to him. She wasn’t a Jew and still she believed and was grateful for God’s gift.

Saul knew that he had encountered God and he didn’t even question what he should do. He just got up and used what he knew to be true from the Hebrew scriptures and went out and began preaching the Good News. I don’t believe he was trying to repay God for his transformation. I believe he was driven by the Spirit of God much like Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tested. Saul/Paul couldn’t do anything else. He was driven to do what he did.

So, good friends, what do we do now? God has blessed us with his grace. What do we do with it?

You may be asking yourselves, “Grace? I’m not sure about that.” Friends, I’m sure we have been given God’s free gift of grace otherwise I don’t believe we would be here on such a fine day. I believe that everyone who spent even one day here this week with the Vacation Bible School children was given grace beyond anything they ever imagined. What do they do now? I think there is only one answer. They just need to pay it all forward. Pass it on to those others who are desperate need of grace.

I believe that the answer to, “What do we do now?” We use the gifts God’s Spirit has given us to help others in ways that only God can know how. That’s what we do now. We give to others in the only way we can as only each of us can.

It begins by accepting God’s grace for us and then sharing it with those we meet while we are blessed to be here as long as we are here.

We complain about the state of affairs we find our country and our world in and wonder why someone doesn’t do something. Why doesn’t God do something? Friends, he has. He has given all of us a commission. Go out, make disciples, baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Care for the widows, the poor, the weak and the lame, and the imprisoned. Friends, as Jesus told the disciples, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few.” Nothing’s changed. The harvest is still great and the laborers are still few, but today you now have the answer to what we all should do now. Go out and serve. Go out and minister to those who need what we have to give. Just go.

Thanks be to God for his amazing grace. Amen.

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