Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Grace of Bread

Today (or a Sunday in the past, since you are not reading this today), I visited another church. Steve and I went there only because a friend was preaching, and we wanted to hear his message. We live in a different town than the church; there is no chance that living where we live, we would become members of this church. And there is the fact that we are already United Methodists who are members of a different church. I wasn't there in my Foundation role; I looked like a "regular" visitor.

As we sat there, a person brought us a visitor bag that had homemade banana bread in it. I tried to tell her that she didn't need to do that, but nothing stopped her, and we came home with bread. 

As I sat there in worship, feeling guilty, I realized that I was doing the church an injustice. My guilt was based on the idea that the bread was offered in exchange for something - that it was offered to persuade me that they were friendly and to try to convince me to return. That's not a very grace-filled motivation behind offering a gift, and why would I expect that their motivation was anything but grace-filled. The bread was a gift, offered in the love of Christ, to someone they did not know.

Glory to God.

Instead of feeling guilty, I should have felt thankful for their message of welcome and grace. And now I do. I think I'll write them a note to thank them and to encourage them in their ministry.

There is a lesson in this for all of us, I think. When we offer hospitality, we should remember that it is a radical act of grace, not done in the expectation of something in return. When we receive that kind of grace, we should be thankful for it, and not think it was done in "exchange" for something.

It's grace.

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