I grew up writing sermon notes every Sunday.
My parents guided us along from sleeping throughout the service, to sitting quietly with some toys, to drawing, and then drawing something related to the sermon--however vaguely--to copying their sermon notes, and finally writing our own. This all happened so gradually and naturally that it is still a habit with me today--one I am profoundly thankful for, as it helps me to focus (and stay awake, during those tough caffeine-immune days!)
Of course, it's also a transferrable skill and an invaluable advantage when you're in the classroom. My appreciation for this reached a whole new level when I entered university--but I digress.
I am grateful for this habit, though I used to chafe at the amount of space all those years' worth of sermon note books took up in my limited shelf space. It's true that I seldom flip back on those notes, and have forgotten most of those sermons. But like I once read somewhere, just because you've forgotten a sermon doesn't necessarily mean you didn't benefit from it. Just like how you are alive today because of all the meals your mother cooked for you, even though you can't remember them, even though you perhaps didn't like all of them.
Notes help you to remember. And sometimes as you reread them you catch something in the gleanings that you missed before.
Here is one thought that I found when gleaning through my sermon notebooks, from a sermon my father preached a while back. I loved this thought--it opened my eyes to the significance of these two words, which we so often use almost interchangeably, almost unthinkingly, when we talk about God.
Mercy and grace--two separate things that together symbolize the completeness of God's love and goodness towards us.
They are similar, aren't they, and yet they have such beautifully different meanings:
Mercy is not getting what you deserve;
whereas grace is getting what you don't deserve.
To have a God who shows us both is indeed something to be awed by.
Mercy was Christ dying on the cross to take away the condemnation hanging over our heads.
Grace was Christ giving us hope, the Spirit to change and guide us, and most of all His love to empower us.
Without one, divine love would be different, would be less than perfect, would not fulfill how devastatingly needy we are. Why they are so easily blended into each other is because when we give thanks for one, very naturally (and rightly) we give thanks for the other, we recognize how intrinsically linked they are. We need both.
And He is both.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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