I am writing this letter just a few days after we shared in our Harvest Services. This was the first time that I had seen the church sanctuary with its Harvest displays in place and, again, I was struck by the skills and talents of those in our congregation who could put all of this together. A huge thank you to them and, of course, to all who gave so generously towards the Harvest gifts for the East Lothian Foodbank located in Tranent.
At our Harvest service we took time to watch a very poignant video clip about a lady called Suzanne and how, through circumstances beyond her control, that she and her husband had both lost their jobs and found themselves without enough to feed them and their family on. Telling her story so calmly and with such dignity, Suzanne reflected upon how having little food left her and her family not only hungry but also full of guilt… and even fear. Guilt at not being able to fulfil what she felt was her duty – to feed her family but fear at what might happen were someone in the world of “officialdom” to determine that she was not able to offer her children a place of safety and security.
It really set the backdrop for our whole service as we thought about how Jesus took five loaves and two fishes and made that enough to feed five thousand people.
In loving hands gifts are multiplied. With generous hearts and minds, people are fed. With compassion, those in need are led beyond the despair of the moment to a place where they can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Given support and time, those in need can get themselves back on track so long as that support is offered without judgement. First and foremost, people must be accepted as they are… just as we would like to be accepted as we are, with all our own failings and faults.
For Christians this acceptance of others is surely rooted in God’s acceptance of us. That is what we call “Grace”
The American preacher, Adrian Rogers, once wrote: “Grace is God's acceptance of us. Faith is our acceptance of God accepting us.”
Or as the writer Philip Yancey once put it: “Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less. It means that I, even I who deserve the opposite, am invited to take my place at the table in God’s family.”
Now that is Amazing and accepting Grace…!
Let’s keep on accepting others just as God has accepted us – an acceptance and grace that can transform others and which can certainly transform us.
Your friend and minister
Robin Allison (Rev)