House of Grace ~ Prevenient Grace

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ephesians 5:8-14

This week the Tuskawilla Community begins a 3-week sermon series entitled House of Grace. In this sermon series we will explore our Wesleyan understanding of God’s grace. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, described God’s grace as threefold: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying. We will study one facet of God’s grace each week.

I understand grace as God’s love and mercy given to humanity by God not because we deserve it or because we earned it. God pours out God’s grace freely because God wants us to have it. By having God’s grace, our souls are nourished, we receive God’s care, and we are drawn into ways of responsible living – for ourselves, for our neighbors, and for our world.

When Wesley taught on God’s grace, he used the image of the house – specifically the porch, the door’s threshold, and the living quarters of the house. He linked the image of the porch with prevenient (or preventing) grace, the door’s threshold with justifying grace, and the living quarters with sanctifying grace. For more on each of these, I invite you to worship this Sunday…and the two following it! I plan to share memories from my childhood during each week of this series. Y’all should know by now that you can take the girl out of Polk County…but you cannot take the Polk County out of this girl!

As I prepare for worship this week and prepare for next week when our Annual Conference will convene in Daytona, I am aware of how in need of God’s grace we are. Many conversations will take place at Annual Conference and I hope all participants in those conversations engage with a willing posture committed to discussion rather than division. Decisions from these conversations will include the election of delegates that will represent the Florida Conference at our connectional General Conference in Portland, Oregon next April as well as the adopting or endorsement of any petitions and legislations that will be brought to the floor of General Conference by the Florida delegation.

I invite you to begin praying with me today about our Annual Conference event, that throughout this time of holy conferencing all those present will honor God and invite God’s grace to inform, shape, and lead our acts, signs, and deeds. My hope is that we will meet as a fellowship of God’s people, and with honoring God as our focus, we will meet God where God is and lead towards the vision that God reveals…and if we accomplish some conference business while we are there, that is great, too.

God, we are not perfect. Our church is not perfect. Our Annual Conference is not perfect. We are seeking after you…you who are perfect. And in the seeking, you reveal a more perfect, a more grace-filled, a more holy way. Where you lead us, we will follow. We are with you, with you, all the way.

Prayer: “Lord, you have come to the lakeshore looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones; you only asked me to follow humbly. You need my hands, full of caring through my labors to give others rest, and constant love that keeps on loving. O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name; now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas.”* Amen.

*”Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore,” The United Methodist Hymnal 344.