FAITH: Saved by grace
I come from a liturgical tradition. That is to say the liturgy that happens in the Lutheran church happens across the county, across the world, and parts of it have been used for centuries. Liturgy just means the order of the service. Everyone has liturgy, even if you don't call it that. You could even say that big family meals at Thanksgiving have a certain liturgy. One person always hosts. The meal is normally at this time. Aunt Susan brings the cranberry sauce. Grandpa cuts the turkey. Aunt Jane brings the same pie every year. There is a flow that repeats — liturgy.
One of my favorite parts of the liturgy happens almost every service is the Confession and Forgiveness. Here is where we confess our sins as a community and as a community receive grace and forgiveness. There are times every week in which my actions harm my neighbor -- where I make judgements on my neighbor, don't help others where I had the capacity to, and I know I participate in larger systems where I don't know the ramifications. Was this product that I bought made ethically? Did they pay their workers a living wage? Can I even afford a different product? We don't always know all the consequences to our actions when we are called to love our neighbor.
How then should I keep track of these things? Should I just stop trying to be good and ethical if there is no point? Breathe. God doesn't keep a tally sheet of all the good and bad you do, waiting to smite you if you have one more tally in the bad column. Life is more grey, and God loves and cherishes you. God gives you his grace, which frees you to better love your neighbor.
Yes, we should try to limit our harm to one another, and try to put more good in the world. God gives us grace. This is not a net sum game. In the Confession and Forgiveness part of the liturgy, we confess all the ways, knowingly and unknowingly, we have failed. And we ask for God's grace. God tells us there is nothing you could do to lose my grace or my love. You are always my child, and I want good things for you.
Before each service, I like to remind my assistants to not worry if you mess up, say the wrong word or do something out of order — grace abounds. God will show up even if we say the words wrong, even if there is unresolved conflict, even if I trip and fall on my face up the aisle. Because of God's grace for us, we are more graceful with each other and ourselves. After we confess our sins, the person who is leading the service forgives us our sins, so that we can better live in community with each other.
Remy Remmers is the pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. She can be reached at 541-447-7526.
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