I had a wonderful day with three primary things that stood out to me, all of which tie into this passage for today. The first was a question my spiritual director asked me about our upcoming trip to South Africa…She asked, “what grace are you praying for?” At first, I really had no idea how to answer that question, but after talking through it a good bit, I came to one of the many aspects of grace that was very present for me. I reflected upon the fact that there is a good measure of guilt I feel about this summer coming up – from not “working” for 12 weeks to being able to do trips like I have never been able to do before (or likely will get to do again). The grace of God is that there are times we receive simply gift…and we don’t earn it, deserve it – yet there it is.
The second came in the end of an email exchange with our church administrator. I was writing about my expense report and he wrote back with his answer and ended his message with “Expect great things from the Holy Spirit.” He didn’t need to write that – he could have simply written his answer to my question about expenses and mileage, but he did. And it was a gift and a reminder about the way to approach these next few months. Expect great things from the Spirit – indeed.
Finally, the third. Came tonight after an evening of some heavy rains… I had just tucked my kids in to bed and looked out the windows to the west and saw an absolutely stunning sunset. I hopped in the car and drove up the road to a place where I could get a better vantage point and just took in the beauty of the sun going down tonight. As I stood there (and took some pictures of course), there was a gentle rain still falling – not something that got me (or my camera) soaked, but reminded us that it was still there. I could feel each drop falling – it was lovely. My picture is not of the sunset per se, but the results of it, the reflection of the colors of the sky on the wet rock and the small pool where the rains had accumulated. We cannot always see grace, but we can feel it and see its effects in our lives.
So what does all this have to do with Matthew 12? As I read though it, especially the first half, I found myself hearing “grace” in Jesus words about the disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath and the healing of the man with the withered hand. “How much more valuable is a human being” as Jesus responded to his accusers who were seeking to trap him. Grace…God showers it. We can and should do the same.