Readings – Genesis 18:1-15,21:1-7; Psalm 116:1,10-17; Romans 5:1-8; Matthew 9:35-10:8-23
Do you know anyone named Grace? I came up with three. A bricklayer’s daughter from Philadelphia, Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. The lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick. A violinist and now a music teacher in Gettysburg, a Second Sunday musician who grew up in Lewisburg, Grace Kenney.
Webster states that from the Latin grace means, goodness, generosity, courteous goodwill, free and unmerited. In church-speak, we know God’s grace is given to us in creation. St. Paul in our epistle for today states that–
we have obtained access to [God’s] grace in which we stand…. God proves his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
To restate, while we were totally lost, God through Jesus, showed us the path of life, the way. God’s grace shows us how to live a life of grace, a life of generosity, a life of hospitality. God’s grace is unmerited, unearned love that has been poured into our hearts.
And our response to receiving God’s grace? First, we give thanks for God’s grace. Second, we pass it on, we give it away.
The story of Abraham and Sarah is the story of their receiving God’s grace, the promise of the gift of land, and the gift of a son. For twenty-five years they lived into that promise, wandering far and wide, erecting altars as they traveled to thank God, and waiting for the realization of these two gifts. When three strangers appeared Abraham and Sarah, they provided overwhelming hospitality, not just a little water and a little bread, but cakes, a tender calf, curds, and milk. This hospitality to strangers grew from their thankfulness to God for the yet unrealized promise of land and descendants.
Abraham and Sarah gave thanks to God and passed it on through their overwhelming hospitality.
Today we continue in the tradition of Abraham and Sarah. We give thanks to God for the promise of eternal life, for the guidance we have already received from Jesus, for how to live in our current times, and for the promise of living a fuller eternal life as we cross the threshold of death.
Additionally, today we again receive food for our journey, The Body of Christ, the bread of eternal life, and the Blood of Christ, the cup of eternal salvation.
We give thanks; we are fed; and we are encouraged to pass on God’s grace.
Abraham and Sarah put out their best for those strangers just passing through.
We are led by their example to do the same for all the weary strangers that come our way. Rather than “stranger danger” we are led by example to “stranger opportunity”. We are led to provide a feast of cakes, curd, and calf, our best.
And, of course, there are risks! As Jesus taught in our reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew —
Yet, Jesus also proclaimed–
Do not worry…
Do not worry and allow the Spirit of God to speak through your gracious generosity.
God’s grace has been shed on us.
God’s grace leads us.
God’s grace is flowing in our very souls.
God’s grace, pass it on. God’s grace, give it away.
Pass it on; give it away.
As the psalmist wrote —
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.