by Becky Brown
The first years I lived here in Gettysburg, I frequently took an early morning bicycle ride with friends. It was an easy ride with frequent conversation.
One of my fellow participants was Pastor Ed Keyser. We talked of many things and once I observed of him that almost all of his sermons referred to grace and/or forgiveness in some way, even if the Bible text didn’t call for it.
His response has stuck with me almost thirty years. “We all need the reminder. We are so hard on ourselves.”
I knew that I often agonized over past mistakes or unkindnesses, striving to learn a better way for the next time. It had never occurred to me that everyone was doing the same thing. I knew we all had a conscience – that still, small voice that chided us as we went along – but had never thought of the universality of brooding over sins of the past.
Ed was speaking of Christ’s forgiveness and grace that is available to all of us as we wend our ways through life. We do need to be reminded of this wonderful gift that follows confession.
A poetic version of Psalm 154 has long been one of my favorites. It is taped on the wall beside my drawing table;
There’s nothing in me, My Lord
That doesn’t open to your eyes
You note when I arise
In the darkest closet of my thought
There is an open window of sunshine for you
You walk with me
Lie down with me
At every move await me
At every pause
You know the words
My tongue will print in air
If I say yes
You have already nodded
No- and you have shaken your head
In any doubts I lose my way
I find your hand
I don’t remember to read it every day, but when I do, I feel that hand which shelters me.
Even more what comes to me as a great and wonderful gift is the grace I receive when taking Communion here at St. James. I have not always been so responsive to this sacrament, have, at times in the past, taken it lightly or not at all, but in my later years, now, I marvel at the fact that human to human we can give and receive God’s incredible gift of grace. So when I look into the eyes of the one giving me the bread or the wine I feel the passage between us of light, strength and joy and I have to smile.
Thanks be to God.