In the past few weeks, I’ve had a couple of encounters that once again reminded me of the grace that surrounds us and how that grace can play out in our lives.
I was reflecting with a minister on a congregation he was in that was tremendously generous in many ways.
When he asked one lay leader why he was so generous, the person told a story of being in a flood. He lost his crop in the rising waters but he said, “That’s ok, I’ve still got the machinery and the house.”
When the waters rose and he lost his machinery he said, “That’s ok, I’ve still got the house.” When the house was lost, he and his wife had to be rescued from the roof.
The man said that from that day on he and his wife held the belief that anything they had was only on grace, and to be shared. So one family’s faith became part of the influences that shaped a community of faith over more than a generation.
The second story came from the funeral of Shirley Leutton, an amazing person who was an entrepreneur in faith. Her life was one that had many challenges but she gave tremendous leadership to the place of people with disabilities in our faith communities. Where others saw disability, she saw a person created in the image of God, full of grace and potential.
One of the people who journeyed with her in that last tough year as she let go of physical capability was an Anglican priest and he bore witness to Shirley’s faith that was looking forward to a new creation. He said that they often meditated on a passage in 1 Corinthians 15: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom and that this perishable body must clothe itself with the imperishable.
We each have our own life trajectories, and those trajectories intersect with, and are influenced by, much that is outside of our knowledge or control.
Yet the story of Jesus and the church is that faithfulness to the things of God can still find a way to be revealed; and faithful witness will bear fruit in ways, again, beyond our knowledge or control.
We face many challenges in Queensland: the long journey of recovery from cyclones and floods, the building of a new economic order that is not based on the fossil fuel industry, and the restoration of respect and compassion and care for the vulnerable in our communities to name a few.
These lessons on grace speak to me not about something to tell people about how to respond to life’s challenges, but rather how those who bear the name of Christ are called to be a means of grace, reservoirs of faith, hope, and love, who can embody the life of the Kingdom of God for others.
Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod