Rev. Susan Cartmell
The Grace of a New Beginning
This January as we begin a New Year following a really hard year, we all have a sense of anticipation. We are eager to begin afresh most years at this time but that is especially true in 2021. We hope for better days ahead, and we want to make ourselves ready for them.
The Church calendar is set up so that we can take a journey with Jesus through the year. After we have celebrated His birth we jump over his childhood and youth and pick up the story of Jesus as he begins his ministry at the age of 30. This January I want to examine the beginning of Christ’s ministry.
What was it about Jesus that made him the man he was? Why did people notice him, or follow him? What was it about Jesus that made people feel or sense that he was close to God? I think that quality is grace. When we talk about grace most of us think about the prayer you say before a meal. But all religions talk about grace, from Buddhists to Muslims. For Christians, grace is the special connection with God that you feel sometimes, when God seems to be close to you. Some sense God’s presence at the Lord’s Table in the Sacrament of Communion. Others feel it is epitomized in the closeness of a baptism.
But what grace conveys is always a sense of the presence of God. It’s a feeling or an intuition more than a concrete thing you could prove. But it is real. It was real when people left their day jobs to follow this itinerant preacher. And Christ’s charisma cannot be written off because his disciples lived 2000 years ago. Skepticism was alive then, too.
I think when we stop to consider it, we all have experiences when God was close, whether we know it or not. When we stand on a beach to watch the sun rise or set there is a feeling of something we cannot name. When we see a newborn or draw close to someone who is in hospice care, we feel “something”. When we gazed last week at the star of Bethlehem we felt a reality beyond our own lives. Even in the commotion of Christmas Eve with Kristen’s opera-trained voice and the simple farm animals, and the spontaneous re-enactment, people were crying, and they were not sad.
In January, I will preach about Grace and the way God so often comes close to us today, if only we can see it.
Waves of Faith
BY REV. DR. SUSAN CARTMELL
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