Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Tsunami of Grace

By Dennis Sanders

Matthew 18:21-35

When I was in college I was part of the Baptist college fellowship. Every so often, we had communion.

I really dreaded communion.

The pastor would talk about being careful that there was not anything that could get in the way of communion such as a broken relationship with someone in the group. There was a quiet place where people could go to hash things out. What I remember from that whole experience is that I was always worried that there was something- something, unknowing to me that would damn me. Communion became a time of fear to me, wondering if I was pure enough to receive the bread and wine.

Looking back, I understand the pastor's intent: that the community take communion seriously and be a community where there was no dissention, but unity. But the result was that people didn't feel worthy to come to God's table.

In today's text, Jesus tells the tale of a servant that owes his king a huge amount of money. He pleads for another chance and the king forgives him of the debt. He then sees another servant who owes him a few bucks. He doesn't show his fellow servant the same mercy- instead he has the servant thrown into jail. Word of this gets to king who ends up throwing the wicked servant into prison after all because he could not forgive his fellow servant.

The servant forgot what it meant to live in grace, and he isn't that only one.

At times we think that God's act of forgiveness which is expressed in the life, death and ressurection of Christ, come to us in drips and drops, only to us and no one else. But the reality is that God's grace is a deluge of love that has fallen on all of creation.

My Baptist group of twenty years ago was partially correct: I wasn't worthy to come to Table. I'm still not. No one is. It is only what God did in Christ, that any of us are able to come to the Table. We can come to the Holy Feast only because we are forgiven by God. We are swimming in the sea of grace.

But it is hard to see that ocean of grace sometimes. I write these words at 11:30pm on September 10, 2008. Tomorrow is the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001. When we think of events like 9/11 or the Holocaust, we wonder, how can one forgive? How can we ignore such sins?

Seeing the world as one filled with God's grace doesn't mean that everything will be roses. But we do know that while evil might seem to be winning in the world, it will not in the end. Evil in the end will be drowned in the tsunami of grace.

With that knowledge, we can go on loving and forgiving. Thanks be to God!

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