Sermons That Work

God’s Grace Is Free!, Proper 6 (C) – 1998

June 14, 1998

Sweet ever-loving Jesus, bless our minds and hearts to hear your voice. Make us one with your Holy Spirit in love. Fill us with compassion and peace to promote your love and kingdom to all. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable unto you. In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.

In our scripture reading from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus invites a guest to the home of the Pharisee. This is not just a person who stopped by to see Jesus who is a respected member of society; this guest is a woman of insolence, a “sinful” woman; a harlot. Jesus accepts the woman as his guest and his actions are questioned. After all, to the wider religious community, Jesus is a rabbi, a man who is by definition pure and clean. The wider religious community is caught up in their ethos of righteousness and judgement and forgets to offer the hospitality of God. It is the unclean woman, who is grateful for the opportunity to be healed, who sat at the feet of Jesus, and in her gratitude washed his feet with her tears.

Her love for Christ surpassed any humiliation she could experience from this community. The reaction of this proper wealthy religious community is unimportant. For her, she has seen God, She has found an unconditional love in Christ and her sins are forgiven. No longer is she a sinful woman; rather, she is the invited guest of Christ in the privileged home of a Pharisee.

Throughout the ministry of Christ, Jesus reached out to the poor, the destitute, those in despair, the friendless, the hungry, and the homeless. Christ holds out his hand with his palm open to us, welcoming us to a place of peace and a place of rest that the world can not offer. We are the uninvited sinful guests in the world. It is only through the grace of God that we are humbled and moved to a new place in our relationship with God. Only when we accept what Jesus Christ offers — unconditional love.

Like the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair, we, too, come to the feet of Christ with our burdens, our sins. All of the memories of our actions and words we have said that can not be withdrawn. We come with the remembrance of our hurt, our destruction, and the betrayed — our family, friends, our church family. We come to Jesus with our self-hatred. We bring to Christ our broken relationships, our lies, our anger, even our passion for revenge. We bring it to the feet of Christ, and Jesus Christ offers us blessed grace. Whatever sins we hold dear and near to our hearts can be released at the feet of Christ through faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not see”, as described by the Apostle Paul in Hebrew 11: 1. We are compelled to believe in a loving, compassionate God who hears our cries and our fear. It is in faith we believe or we wallow in despair.

We are like the woman in this story. She was misguided, has mixed messages of rewards and punishment by the culture for her actions. Our lives are filled with mixed messages from hyperspace, telephone calls of hopelessness, hearts of loneliness. We often wallow in despair and feel we have no choice but to sin, to lie, cheat, deceive, or compromise our faith for money. Our lives are busy, frequently too busy for family, for friends, for love. We are too busy for ourselves. It is true that we ride the tide of life bending to stay on the top of the rising crest of the wave, but soon we realize, once that crest descends that we are riding on the false promises of the world and we are without love.

Here is when God’s grace is most prevalent in our lives, when we are at our weakest moment of despair. How many times have we all said, “Dear God, if you just help me this one last time”; or how many times have we tried to negotiate with God by saying “God, if you do this, I’ll teach Sunday School for a season; and be good…” We almost sound like children, trying to negotiate to stay up late. God’s grace brings us to a new place in life. God’s grace is a gift given unconditionally. It is difficult for the human mind to comprehend “unconditional love.” But God’s grace can not be earned, it can not be purchased, it can not be negotiated. God’s grace is a gift that refocuses our soul and enlightens our heart with an epiphany of newness. God’s grace heals, inspires, is creative, and creates. God grace is a gift of love that creeps into our souls and transforms a part of our being.

Experiencing God’s grace means we believe we are forgiven and forgive ourselves. Experiencing God’s grace simply means we recognize a change in our attitude, our soul, and our very being. God’s grace is manifested in a peace and love unknown to human kind. Today, God invites us to accept God’s grace. We have experienced God’s grace in this place today just by acknowledging the presence of God’s love.

Acknowledge God’s grace and we have Jesus. Accept God’s grace and we are one with God. Embrace God’s grace and experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Today you are the uninvited guest at the house of the Pharisee. Today you are at the feet of Christ. Do you know you are forgiven? Can you experience God’s love?

Let us pray. Thank you dearest God for your Grace. Thank you for allowing us to explore your word. Pour out your spirit in this place. Please inspire us with your love. And heal our brokeness. All this we pray in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Christopher Sikkema


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