Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. ~ Romans 3:19-28
I'm going to repeat myself here. Much of this devotion comes from words I said last year on Reformation Day.
But it bears repeating: at the heart of the Reformation is this: God is the actor of salvation.
God makes us righteous (justified) as a gift.
God comes to us.
Nothing we do can earn that divine love.
Nothing we do can merit us grace.
Nothing we do can bring us to a heavenly bliss.
We can't make ourselves worthy by pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps.
God doesn't just help those who help themselves.
God helps those who can't help themselves.
And everyone in between.
We don't earn it.
We don't deserve it more than the person who annoys us or frightens us.
We don't deserve it more than those who aren't in our tribe.
We don't deserve it because of what we do, who we hang with, how much or little we have.
God comes to us.
We are loved already.
We deserve unmerited grace because God says so.
Because God loves us.
Because God calls creation good.
Because God loves to give gifts!
And every now and then we are given a tangible glimpse of that grace. We feel strengthened by Holy Communion with God and with each other.
We touch the hand of the stranger: the neighbor who needs grace as much as we do.
God comes to us in those moments of epiphany.
And God comes to us in the moments we miss.
God comes to us. Always.
Come Holy One, and help me to see it, feel it, know it. Always. Amen