My people, how about a story tonight before your hit the sack? A story that demonstrates something that we see little of in today’s world, GRACE.
Once a member of a local church had suddenly stopped attending. As time went on the minister decided to go and visit him to see what was going on. It was a cold one this day. That night, the evening minister the old man sitting at home all alone by a blazing fireplace. The man new the reason for his Ministers visit and he welcomed him in and directed him to a comfortable chair next to the fire with him.
The Minister sat down next to the man both next to the warm fire but neither said anything. They just looked at each other from time to time and then both would look into and past the flames.
In the grave silence of the room, the minister contemplated the dance of the flames around and under the burning logs. After a few minutes, the minister took the fire tongs, carefully picked up the brightest burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. He again sat back, glance at the old man and looked back at the flames never saying a word.
The old man sat there in his quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and finally diminished, there was a momentary glow and then…there was fire no more. Soon it was cold and dead.
Still not a word had been spoken since the initial entry greeting. The minister glanced down at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more, with the light and the warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the minister reached the door to leave, the old man said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you my friend so much for your fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
You see my friends, grace is a very delicate balance of words and actions that expresses our dignity and affirms the dignity of those around us and of the importance of ALL of us. When we are gracious, we choose our words thoughtfully and we move through our world with restraint and with poise.
Yes, grace is often a quality of leaders who can rise above conflict or competition, remaining calm and kind despite the chaos that swirls around them. However, grace is a quality in which we all have within us for it protects against reactivity and excess and we ourselves can inspire a sense of harmony and comfort in those who experience our grace.
May we each show mercy to others each time and each place it is needed.