Last weekend at St. John’s our controlling image was the beloved peanuts character, Pig Pen. We considered what it means to be a grace-giving church, especially toward “messy people.” It’s one of our core values: We desire to be a church where grace is lived. The God we worship has shown himself in Jesus to be full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Does that mean we can offer grace to others in their messiness without compromising truth? It absolutely does. Can that get messy? It absolutely can. But we’re willing to venture there. We believe our Lord went there first–for us and in our place. When he said from the cross, “It is finished” that was grace personified–grace going the full way to pay sin’s penalty for the evil people as well as the “good” people.
Messes are critical moments–where people either grow or die a little inside. Jesus Christ entered the mess right where we were when he came to earth. He’s still there by His Spirit, bringing growth to people when they are their messiest versions of themselves. If St. John’s wants to get in on that, there are a few questions we need to consider:
- Does the soil we’re creating at SJ’s make it easier for people to grow or harder?
- Are we a church where it’s okay NOT to be okay? Where it’s okay NOT to know all the ‘Lutheran rules.’
- Are we a church ONLY for people who go to church?
- Are we accepting of people if they come to us ‘living in sin?’ Or do they have to ‘clean up’ first?
- Does the soil we’re creating allow room for questions, doubts, and struggle?
Just saying we’re grace-giving doesn’t make us that way. But, based on responses I’ve heard to last weekend’s sermon, we have folks who WANT THAT! This post, as always, invites conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Peace be with you, Pastor Dan