Grace, peace and mercy be multiplied to you from God our Father, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
When I was in seminary (MANY years ago, my colleagues will remind me), there was a change in how classes would be graded. Most of my colleagues and I were in seminary to receive the education and training needed so that we might receive our degree and go on to be ordained in the church and serve as pastors. Others were training for positions of lay ministry. For many in this group, a “letter” grade in a class was not necessary. In my thirty years of ministry, no one has asked me what grade I got in Old Testament 2 (I got an “A” by the way).
But there were a handful of our classmates whose paths were to go on in academia and further their education. Some planned to teach in the future, and seminary classes were stepping-stones to future degrees. For these colleagues, grade point averages and transcripts were important.
So the seminary provided an opportunity for us to choose how we might be graded in certain classes.
We could take the class for a grade, or request that we take the class “Pass-Fail.” This plan was implemented during my final year of seminary. I took advantage of this in a couple of classes, and at first it was kind of strange. Do I do just enough to get by, just enough to pass? And if so, how much is enough? It was a new way of thinking about how to approach each class. There was a learning curve to this new process after 19 years of getting letter grades in school, from first grade through four years of college and three years of seminary. It took some time to wrap my mind around the concept!
Once I got over the fear that I was not doing “enough to pass,” I found an unexpected surprise: No longer was I trying to do what I needed to do to get a favorable grade from the professor. No longer was my task trying to figure out what the instructor wanted me to give back. Now my attention could be given to learning the material and focusing on the topic. Once I knew that passing the class was not going to be a problem, my attention was focused on what was before me.
In the verse from Revelation, we hear the good news that God will reign forever and ever! Because of Jesus Christ, death is defeated. Because of Jesus Christ, God has the final word, and that word is life. Because of Jesus Christ, we have hope.
Because of Jesus Christ, we know that we are forever in God’s eternal embrace. In the waters of baptism, God made a promise, and God always keeps that promise in which God says, “You are loved, you are worthy, you are mine.”
God offers us a peace that PASSES all understanding, and love that will never FAIL.
When you feel like you’re not making a passing grade, take heart. You are loved. You are worthy. You belong to God.
Because of this, may we live our lives focusing on what God has set before us – to live as God created us. God created us to love and worship God, and to love and serve the neighbor.
Let us pray:
We give you thanks that your love never fails. Give us your peace, and open our ears and our eyes to your promises. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.