November 26, 2007
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
My father was a blacksmith. Maybe that’s why, when I hear the name “Erie, Pennsylvania” my mind conjures up images of strong men with blackened faces straining away in the steel mills, pouring fiery streams of molten iron out of red-hot cauldrons.
Unfortunately, Erie’s steel mills have mostly shut down, as have many factories, which once produced plastics, paper, and furniture. That’s why Erie has fallen on hard times and has a poverty rate twice the national average.
There are wonderful people in Erie, Pennsylvania, but you can forgive them if they sometimes wondered what it would take to get HOPE to turn off the Interstate Highway 90 and spend a little time in their town.
According to an Associated Press article that ran last week, the folks of Erie don’t have to wonder any longer. HOPE has not only gotten off the highway, it has decided to take up residency in that community of 102,000. This seems to be the common consensus after Mike Batchelor, president of the Erie Community Foundation, announced that an anonymous donor had given $100 million dollars to 46 charities in that town.
And what was the reaction to this great gift? There were glad tears, big smiles, and a person who said, “What a godsend. . . .”
As I read that story, I thought, that’s the kind of reaction the Lord would appreciate from each of us. Our heavenly Father, looking upon our hopeless condition decided to give us an unexpected, unearned Gift. No, not $100 million dollars –but the life of His Son.
So we might be rescued from damning sin and spiritual poverty, Jesus was born into this world. His life, His suffering, death, and resurrection are God’s gift to us. Through Jesus, items like forgiveness of sins and eternal life are no longer beyond our grasp. They have been placed into our hands. In Jesus, we are given hope of heaven and present security, which lasts past this world and into the next.
Grace: That’s a concept the people of Erie, Pennsylvania, understand better today than they did a month ago. Grace: God’s undeserved, unearned gift of salvation is a concept we should appreciate as well. In Jesus we ought to respond with glad tears, big smiles, and hearts, which most sincerely say, “What a godsend!”
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, through Your Son’s sacrifice I am forgiven and saved. May I always remember, and never forget, Your gift of grace. In my Savior’s Name I pray it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries