Imperfection Is A Sign Of Grace

I can’t believe that it’s the middle of March already – when did that happen??  I am actually heading out of town tomorrow – looking forward to some time off and some time with my family!

Here is this morning’s sermon … enjoy!

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
March 15, 2015

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians, 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

Imperfection Is A Sign Of Grace

Imperfection is a sign of grace.

Last June I had surgery and right before I went in I wanted to make sure that all of our bills were paid through the end of the month so I would not have to worry about them while I was recovering. In addition to the usual stuff – phone, Internet, credit cards, etc. – I also needed to pay my quarterly taxes (clergy tax law is a little bit finicky and we have to pay quarterly). I also needed to send a check to a friend of mine who is a Mary Kay consultant and had sent me some makeup.

I logged into all of my online accounts and pulled out my checkbook. I paid everything that was due and put the quarterly taxes and the check for the Mary Kay makeup in envelopes and dropped them at the post office. I headed into surgery a few days later, feeling relieved that everything was taken care of.

The morning after surgery, I was sitting in my hospital room, still a little groggy, when my phone when off. I looked at it and saw a text message from the friend of mine who sold me the Mary Kay makeup.

Umm … Sarah? Did you just mail in your quarterly taxes?

Yes, I mailed them a few days ago, why?

Well … it’s just … I opened the envelope you sent me for the makeup … and the check for your taxes was in it.

Suddenly all I could picture was a confused looking IRS agent staring at a $15 check with “Mary Kay Close Out Sale” written in the memo line.

This was not one of my finer moments in life.

So we all do stuff like this, right? Every day my Facebook news feed is full of hilarious – and simultaneously self-deprecating – anecdotes from people’s lives gathering “likes” and comments assuring the person who posted that we have all been there.

But what about the things that often do not get posted? What about the stories that we might not be comfortable telling people? What about the hurt and the anguish that we feel that we cannot share because it hurts us so deeply? What about the shame that eats away at who we are?

What about the times in our lives when we have said something that we really, truly regret? What about those fights that we have gotten in with our spouses; fights that have created real pain and sadness – both in ourselves, and also in our marriages? What about the ways in which we have felt like we have failed in our lives – in our work, in our finances, in our parenting and in our friendships? What about the medical crisis’s that we are afraid to tell other people about? What about our deep insecurities? What about the regrets that we feel? What about the times when we have felt as though we simply are not good enough?

This is the stuff that does not often get posted about – but believe me, this is the stuff that people are feeling every single day.

We live in a world that is hard to live in. It is imperfect, it is fast paced and it is inundated with senseless tragedies. Sometimes we cannot help but get caught up in the negative thinking that comes from living in a world that is far from perfect and this negative thinking slowly eats away at who we are – and who God created us to be.

As Protestants, we do not really like to talk about sin. We think that it is too negative or too “Catholic”. We often choose to focus, instead, on positive things so that we can overshadow sin and darkness.

But I was on a webinar this week and the pastor leading it pointed out that “sin is only negative if it stays in your shadow.” [1]

Do you know why we do not like to talk about sin? Because we are afraid; we are afraid that we are the only ones who are not perfect, we are afraid that we are the only ones who struggle, we are afraid that other people will see our imperfections and we are afraid that we will be judged for the mistakes that we have made.

But, my friends, it is time to break free from these fears; because I am here to tell you that no one is perfect. We have all sinned, we have all made mistakes and we all fall short.

And it is time to stop letting these imperfections have some kind of power over us.

It is time to break free from the negative thoughts that consistency invade our lives and be reminded that we are all children of God; created beautifully in God’s image, saved by an unexplainable grace and sustained by a Holy Spirit that will get us through this crazy world.

Do you ever wonder why we read a Prayer of Confession every week in worship? It is not a meaningless ritual; it is an opportunity every week to admit the grace of our imperfections and then to release the burdens of these imperfections to God.

And then – every week – it is a time for us to be reminded and assured of God’s grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for us.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. [2]

God loves us. All of us. It is that simple.

We will all make mistakes, we will all do things that we are not proud of, we will all fall short and we will all experience moments in our lives where we look back and wish we had handled things differently. But even in those moments, we are blessed children of God, who are assured of God’s grace. Grace is not the destination in our faith; it is the starting point. It is the starting point for each and every one of us, not matter who we are or where we are on our journey through life.

This is not a theological guess; this is a scriptural promise.

Indeed, God did not send [Jesus] into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [3]

Jesus brought a light into the world that can never be darkened and to profess a belief in God and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to walk into that light. And even if we are feeling the darkness of our sins and our imperfections – because we all have them – that light will shine upon us and we will be transformed.

The Apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians that we, as children of God, are all made alive together with Christ – and that by grace, we are saved. [4] Grace is a gift from God; a gift given to each and every single one of us, reminding us every day that we are enough and that the sins and the imperfections of our lives will never overshadow the love of our God.

God made us alive through Christ, shining a light in the midst of the darkness of the world, assuring us that we are children of the light, united in the living waters of baptism and saved by the immeasurable riches of God’s grace.

So believe in these scriptures. Believe in the grace that is assured to us by God. Believe that you are enough; that the mistakes you have made, the regret that you feel and the shame that you sometimes feel can always, always, always be redeemed by the God who loves you.

The psalm that we heard this morning says to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and gives to us steadfast love. [5] So today I urge you to look in the mirror and give thanks to God for the gift of grace that is more powerful than the imperfections of our lives. Give thanks to God for the gift of grace that changes us, that transforms us and that reminds us just how precious we are.

A couple of months ago, I came home and Bruce had a really worried look on his face.

Uhhh … Sarah? You got something in the mail from the IRS. It looks official.

I opened the envelope and found my Mary Kay check enclosed in a government form with the heading, “Not intended recipient.” The two of us burst into a fit of hysterical laughter.

There are moments in our lives where we can laugh about our imperfections and our mistakes – and in those moments, we should.

But for the moments where we cannot? And we all have those moments …

That is why we have grace.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

***

[1] The Rev. Molly Baskette, Lead Pastor, First Church Somerville
[2] John 3:16, NRSV
[3] John 3:19, NRSV
[4] Ephesians 2:5, 8, NRSV
[5] Psalm 107:1, 21, NRSV

One thought on “Imperfection Is A Sign Of Grace

  1. Enjoy your visit in CT, Sarah. This has to be one of your best sermons ever. It needs to be saved and repeated over and over. We all need to say “I’m sorry,” and to forgive more easily.

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