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Surprised by Grace

To provoke thoughtful reflection, I’ve taken an ancient legend and set it to rhymed verse:  There’s a story that’s been told about two brothers who had grown old.  Lots of envy, lots of strife; things were tense through most of life.  Said the one, “This has to end!”  A message clear he vowed to send.  Hired a man to build a wall:  “Build it strong, and build it tall!”  Took a week and went away, then returned and was dismayed to see the man that he had paid had really not his will obeyed.  For where the wall was supposed to be, the man had built a bridge, you see, to span the stream that lay between the two whose love had grown so lean.  The man could not his anger hide, but then his eyes were opened wide, for ‘cross the bridge his brother came, his arms extended once again.  With tears in his eyes, the brother said, “After all my hurtful words and acts of unkindness, how could you still reach out to me like this?  Would you please forgive me?”  Love had reached across the span that once divided man from man.  Both he and brother were dismayed by the act that paved the way for love to be restored that day in such an unexpected way when someone dared, someone tried to shatter their unbending pride.  Love’s a gift that we must share.  Others need to know we care.  Build a bridge of love today; God will help you find a way.  Love begins at home with me, then flows out where others see evidence of God’s great love, love that comes from heav’n above.    The man turned to thank the bridge builder, but he was gone.  He was a true priest in a biblical sense, for the word “priest” means bridge builder.  According to scripture all believers are called to be priests.   We are called to be bridges of love, but unfortunately we too often build walls instead of bridges.  There are walls between people with different political views.  Sometimes there’s enmity and strife between family members, neighbors, and between members of the same organization.   The Apostle Paul, in 1 Cor. 9:22 wrote, “I try to find common ground with everyone….”  When people of faith are bonded in love, they can work together.  John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace” expressed his aspirations for Christian unity in these lines based on 2 Cor. 13:14:  “May the grace of Christ our Savior and the Father’s boundless love, with the Holy Spirit’s favor rest upon us from above.  Thus may we abide in union with each other and the Lord, and possess in sweet communion joys which earth cannot afford.”  Newton knew that reconciliation requires the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the enabling power of the Spirit.  Using the melody of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” we could sing his words of blessing into our hearts and minds, and learn to love, forgive, and live together

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