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A Word from Simon – Goodness Gracious!

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about ‘GRACE.’

Many people “say grace” before meals, acknowledging their daily bread as a gift from God. We are grateful for someone’s kindness, gratified by good news, congratulated when successful, gracious in hosting friends. A composer of music may add grace notes to the score. Though not essential to the melody, these notes add a flourish whose presence would be missed.  We also learn about a word from its opposite. Media outlets talk about celebrities and politicians  “falling from grace,” a truly despicable person is described as having no “saving grace” about him.”

But grace is a word that we Christians have a special love for.  We receive God’s Rescue/Riches At Christ’s Expense.  I love what writer Philip Yancey writes about the word ‘grace’, he says “it contains the essence of the gospel as a drop of water can contain the image of the sun.”

Isn’t that a great image? These 5 letters carry the essence of the gospel.  I recently heard from a friend about Christmas Day at their house, the kids were so excited to run down and open their presents and the 2 boys went straight for the 2 big wrapped parcels under the tree.  They excitedly tore off the paper and were thrilled to find a pirate ship each! They ran up to their parents and wrapped their arms around them, thankful for a better gift than they had even dared imagine – at which point the parents said to them “Wait, there’s more under the tree!”  You see folks, grace is an ocean of God’s goodness – there’s always more! Because of Christ’s death and resurrection – there’s always more under the tree (don’t forget the cross is classified as a tree in the New Testament!).  

It was amazing to have our in-house parish weekend with John and Annie Hughes, and to hear such marvellous teaching on the grace gifts of holiness (he makes us like Him),  unity (he can make us ONE), and intimacy (he’ll bring us close to the Father).  It will be amazing during Holy Week, each evening in Magheralin from Monday to Friday at 8pm, to look at the gift of Christ’s SACRIFICE.  A sacrifice that was “filled with Grace”, was “for all”, was “urgent”, “holy” and “completely voluntary”.  Do join us for these special evenings to hear more about this Amazing Grace!

I love the symbols of baptism and confirmation that we use within the Church of Ireland.  John chapter 1 talks about grace on top of grace – and this is so true in these symbols.  Regularly we have baptism which symbolises the need for the washing away of sins and the need for new life in Christ – it is amazing to offer this to infants when we are promising as a Church to help them on that journey towards their own conversion, and beautiful to offer it to adults as we will on Easter Sunday, to mark people’s arrival after that journey, ie they have come to Christ and want to celebrate it!  And if baptism is GRACE, confirmation is more GRACE on top!! It will be great to have the Bishop coming to Magheralin on Pentecost Sunday Night, the 20th of May, to pray the power of the Holy Spirit over our candidates, and should be a powerful night of celebration for the whole church!

So forgiveness from Jesus is grace, the power of the Holy Spirit to live for Jesus is grace over grace!  I wonder have you unwrapped the gift of salvation yet? Have y ou had a taste of his grace?  The symbol of baptism is very important, but it is only a symbol whether you get it as a 0 year old or a 100 year old – the key is, have you got the grace?  And if you have received the grace gift of salvation, are you satisfied or do you want more of God’s grace? Remember because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there’s always more under the tree!

Praying that you have a meaningful Holy Week and Easter, discovering the empty cross and the empty tomb afresh,