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Have you ever seen grace, like right before your eyes?



Once he found it -- or rather, it found him -- Paul was all about the grace of God.  And because he knew that without the grace of God, no one would know either hope or peace, he regularly offered the three in his writing to the people of God.  I remember so clearly one day that I saw grace tangibly needed, offered, and then received by one of God’s children.  The scene was the small historic Sanctuary, where I was holding weekly Bible studies for the street people of the beautiful, wicked city of Long Beach, 40 miles south of Los Angeles. 


Yes, I remember the day our community was the scene of amazing grace.  Andre, a brother, who lived in Lincoln Park, was waiting when I pulled my car up to the curb.  Thrilled to see him again, I jumped out to hug him and welcome him back; you see, his return meant he felt accepted in our midst, or he would not have come a second time.  Why?  Andre was a Crip, who lived on the street, led an openly gay lifestyle, and was HIV positive.  It was no secret.  

 

On that clear, cool Tuesday morning, the Sanctuary was where he wanted to be.  He was looking for hope.  He was looking for answers.  He was looking for grace.  I knew he was desperately hurting, and wanted to know where he could find God…again.  At one point, I suggested we turn to Zephaniah 3.17… and then I asked the Duke of Earl if he would please turn to Andre, and read it to him.  Duke donned his reading glasses, cleared his throat, and said, ‘All right.'  


The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.”’  


Well Duke didn’t even get to the second sentence, before Andre burst into tears.  I got up from my seat, crossed the circle, and reached out to hug him, as he was wracked with inconsolable guttural sobs. As I held him, all around the room, eyes filled with tears.  It was a holy moment.  That is because when the children of God can be alongside someone in his pain, and just be still in reverent silence, God is present.  It is a holy moment indeed.  


When I went back to my seat, Duke put his long arm around Andre’s shoulders, and protectively supported him until he could compose himself.  We all saw it--Duke extended the grace of God to Andre.  And through the life-giving Word of God, Andre received grace from a God who delighted in him, a God who quieted him with his love, and rejoiced over him with singing.  Ah, grace.

 

“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace,” Paul’s beginning sentiment to the Ephesians; “may God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ” - his words ending his letter to the Ephesians.  Grace … in the beginning, and in the end.  Freely, you have received God’s grace, freely give it away.

 

And we consider now Paul’s sentiments in Romans chapter 15:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I memorized Romans 15.13 in the spring of 2020, as we all wondered about Covid and its destruction, about racial unrest, and all of the change swirling about us:


I memorized it so I could pray it, even for myself: May the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And certainly for others.


And for you, oh worried soul, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15.13. Apprehend it for yourself. Make it your own.


What Andre experienced that day in Long Beach impacted all who were present, not just him. You see, when on that rare occasion, we see grace freely offered, freely given away, and then grace taken a hold of—like a drink of cool water to a parched throat—it is never forgotten.



I pray you experience the Grace of God

and give it away too,


Christine





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