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amazing grace

Jim spoke tonight about how God is the origin of generosity.  From beginning to end, the Bible is filled with examples of God’s giving nature.

As we transitioned into our communion time, I shared with the church an acronym I first heard back in high school.  It’s an easy way to remember the meaning of grace:

  • God’s
  • Riches
  • At
  • Christ’s
  • Expense

Grace is God allowing us to share in his goodness, even when we didn’t deserve it.

John Newton was the captain of a ship that carried slaves between West Africa and England.   The slaves were transported under awful conditions.  While sailing home on one particular voyage, Newton encountered a violent storm.  Convinced the ship was lost and about to sink, Newton cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us.”

He later referred to that moment as his “great deliverance.”  While not a religious man prior to that, he became a devout follower of Jesus Christ.  Nine years later, the former slave ship captain became an ordained Anglican pastor.  But he’s perhaps best known for these words:

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.”

Amazing grace … God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

But the story doesn’t end there.  As a pastor, one of his parishioners was a young politician by the name of William Wilberforce.  When Wilberforce was contemplating leaving politics, Newton encouraged him to stay and continue the good fight of abolition.  For 26 years Wilberforce would introduce a bill into parliament to outlaw slavery and for 26 years it would be defeated.  But it finally passed in 1807, something both Wilberforce and Newton lived to see.

Amazing grace … God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

It’s just like God to shower us with goodness and mercy — expecting us to pass it along to others.