Blogging Toward Sunday, March 11th (SPRING FORWARD)!
Fourth Sunday in Lent-Laetare Sunday (Wear PINK)!
Theme: Nothing can break God's covenant with us.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (Common English Bible)
At one time you were like a dead person because of the things you did wrong and your offenses against God. 2 You used to live like people of this world. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God's will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience. 3 At one time you were like those persons. All of you used to do whatever felt good and whatever you thought you wanted so that you were children headed for punishment just like everyone else.
4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God's grace! 6 And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. 7 God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus.
8 You are saved by God's grace because of your faith.[a] This salvation is God's gift. It's not something you possessed. 9 It's not something you did that you can be proud of. 10 Instead, we are God's accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.
This Sunday, at the 11:00 service, fifteen young people will answer the baptismal vows and celebrate baptism or reaffirmation of their baptism and confirmation. This passage from Ephesians was the designated scripture for this fourth Sunday in Lent before we set the date for Confirmation, but the fit for the message must indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit, who will be invoked with each confirmand's blessing after they affirm their vows to God, the Unbreakable Covenant-maker.
These young people have learned about the stages of God's grace as described by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement. This movement of God's grace in human lives and in the world forms the foundation of God's covenant making and covenant keeping.
The website of the United Methodist Church summarizes this way:
"Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God's grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as "practical divinity" has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley's distinctive understanding of God's saving grace. Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in salvation by grace, he combined them in a powerful way to create distinctive emphases for living the full Christian life.
Grace pervades our understanding of Christian faith and life. By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit. While the grace of God is undivided, it precedes salvation as "prevenient grace," continues in "justifying grace," and is brought to fruition in "sanctifying grace."
This "full Christian life," growing in grace, is our hope for our young people, ourselves, and the world that God loves so much. It is the hope that finds fruition in the new covenant offered by our gracious God in the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. As we approach this Sunday of joy and the Confirmation of our young people, we see Easter on the horizon. Thanks be to the God of grace!
See you in Church!
Time change this weekend - SPRING FORWARD 1 HOUR!