SCRIPTURE: Romans 6:1-3 (TM)
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace - a new life in a new land!
STORY as written by Brennan Manning:
A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers 'the Little Flower' because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids. One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.
Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor,” the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions--ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant." So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
Our nation, and the world, debates the wisdom and consequences of bombing Syria. One man with shotgun in hand kills 13 people in a Navy facility. And the political pundits share their “wisdom” of how to respond to both crises. Same old, same old. They are plowing the same field with the same old and tired solutions. What makes us think that this it will be different?
In Jesus, God delivers a message of grace. LaGuardia demonstrated the power of grace. The solution to the world’s problems is grace. We’ve attempted to solve the problems with military might and more guns only to discover that it simply just doesn’t work. When are we going to learn this lesson? How long O Lord, how long will we continue to travel down the same path expecting different results?
We’ve never really done it according to God’s plan. We’ve never really given grace a chance. Anger only results in more anger. Hate reaps the harvest of hate. Retaliation only produces retaliation. Mayhem can only create more mayhem.
On the other hand grace is transformational. It brings about change from the inside out. Grace brings about hope, healing and wholeness. We simply need to embrace the new reality of the Kingdom of God and start living in the new land as true citizens of that new country… as if we really are meant to take up full time residency. Don’t you think that God expects that of us?
We can do better… we’ve got to do better for the sake of our future and the future of our grandchildren… for the future of planet earth… for the future of all people regardless of what language they speak, what country they call home, or what god(s) they might worship. We simply have to do better!
Continue to pour out your grace and just maybe Lord we will get the message!