Sermon: Advent 4 RCL A – “Grace”

One legend tells us that when God was about to create man, He took into His counsel the angels that stood about his throne. “Create him not,” said the angel of Justice, “for if You do he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow men; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.” “Create him not,” said the angel of Truth, “for he will be false and deceitful to his brother-man, and even to You.” “Create him not,” said the angel of Holiness, “he will follow that which is impure in Your sight, and dishonor You to Your face.”

Then stepped forward the angel of Grace (God’s best beloved) and said: “Create him, our Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of justice and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to You.”

I have no idea how I find myself in these predicaments, but a few years ago I tried to explain to six year olds how the Blessed Virgin Mary became pregnant. It went south almost immediately when I asked if they all knew how babies were made. Sometime later, when I once again attempted to teach children, I asked a group of five year olds if they knew what grace meant. Blank stares and crickets. I tried to explain and after my well educated definition they decided that grace was a very bad thing and they wanted none of it! At that moment it occurred to me that I had no idea how to explain grace. Since then, I’ve decided that grace is God’s love. When I thought on it a bit more, I came to the conclusion that God is truly the only one who can show, give true grace or true love, but we – even if we cannot give it ourselves – we can receive it. We – above all other creation – were designed, created, and given the capacity to be the recipients of God’s love.

Thomas Merton wrote: “The wise man has struggled to find God in his wisdom, and he has failed. The just man has striven to grasp God in his own justice, and he has gone astray.

But the sinner, suddenly struck by the lightning of mercy – of grace – that ought to have been justice, falls down in adoration of God’s holiness: for he had seen what kings desired to see and never saw, what prophets foretold and never gazed upon, what the men of ancient times grew weary of expecting when they died. He has seen that God’s love is so infinitely good that it cannot be the object of a human bargain.”

This is the 4th Sunday of Advent and it is the Sunday of love. On the previous Sundays we have looked at hope, peace, and joy, but the greatest is love, because love is the reason behind the first three. For God so loved… for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.

As we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Our Lord, place your hope in our final home, that Heavenly Kingdom; rest assured in peace knowing that in this life he will never leave us or forsake us; be sustained with the joy that passes all understanding; and know that you are loved by the One True God who has poured out his grace upon us by the giving of His one and only Son.

Let us pray:
God, our Father,
may we love You in all things and above all things.
May we reach the joy which You have prepared for us in Heaven.
Nothing is good that is against Your Will,
and all that is good comes from Your Hand.
Place in our hearts a desire to please You
and fill our minds with thoughts of Your Love,
so that we may grow in Your Wisdom and enjoy Your Peace.
Amen.

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