Grace Weekly | Dec. 13th, 2012

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Scripture for the day: “In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.” Romans 11:32 The Message

Grace Received: I can’t quite seem to get away from thinking and talking about God’s grace. (And I cant’ wait to do it this Sunday so come and bring someone with you!) A moment of reflection on God’s goodness and mercy can fill the whole day with a fresh gratitude for all that God has done for us. I was reading in Romans this morning and came across the verse above. I love the image of God’s gracious welcome and know that there is certainly no other place I’d rather be than on the inside of a relationship with Him. It’s His mercy and grace that makes that possible and I don’t ever want to forget that. I don’t want you to forget it either .  On this beautiful, sunny December, Tennessee morning know that you are loved, blessed and graced.

Grace Shared:  I got a glimpse of some behind-the scenes grace-sharing this week. Every year for the last 9 years Mike Rucker has made ornaments to give away at our Drive-Thru. Making 850 ornaments is no small feat! This year it is especially so because of the new style (they are beautiful and will be a blessing to this year’s guests) of ornament that required more preparation than in any other year. I happened to go by his shop Tuesday night and saw Jeep and Caroline Cassle who had joined the Rucker family and come by to lend a hand.  I want to brag on Caroline. For hours this high school freshman used a hot-glue gun putting backing on the ornaments. She not only worked, she talked. As people labored alongside each other they also shared life.  Not only were ornaments made, relationships were built.

The same thing will happen around tables this weekend as people take a break from serving and come inside to get a warm bowl of soup before going back out. One of the best parts of the Drive-thru is the time available for us to get to know each other better even while we serve. It happens every year. New friendships are formed. I’m anxious to see how our parking lot, foyer, and kitchen conversations add life and vitality to the relationships within Grace, even as we are fulfilling our mission to extend grace to our community.

Grace Extended: “True greatness, true leadership is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.  True service is never without cost.  Often it comes with a painful baptism of suffering.  But the true spiritual leader is focused on the service he and she can render.” J. Oswald Sanders

This quote expresses very well our understanding of what it means to be a mature follower of Jesus. It truly is a basin-towel lifestyle of service to which we’ve all been called. This weekend that service will take the form of parking lot attendants, actors, travelers, cooks, singers, candle-lighters, greeters, hot-chocolate servers, data entry folks, and childcare servants who converge in a beautiful way to help tell and re-tell the story of Jesus’ birth to our community. That’s what we do as keepers of The Story – we are committed to telling it. We had a great time last night of preparation for this year’s drive thru nativity and once again I am enjoying seeing what happens when a large group of people get behind a common cause and do something bigger than any of us could ever do alone. There is still room to participate for one, two, or all three nights so even if you haven’t signed up, if you’d like to help we’ll find a place for you. PLEASE be praying the next few days for all who will come to our campus. People in our city need the Jesus we are trying to share.  The babe of Bethlehem, Christ of Calvary, and Lord of Life is the forgiver of sins, healer of hurts, and Reconciler of relationships. He is desperately needed.  We want every person in every vehicle to have an encounter with the Christ who came to us, and for us Pray it happens!

Johnny Rivera, Chad and Angela Taflinger offered free gift wrapping last Tuesday night at K-Mart. Sporting their Grace t-shirts they served strangers in the name of Jesus. Way to represent!

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