October 2, 2016
Luke 17:5-10
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Lamentations 1:1-6


Grace: reinterpreting our lives
Proper 22 | OT 27 | Pentecost 20

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Wayne Brouwer
One college professor presented his class syllabus on the first day of the new semester. He pointed out that there were three papers to be written during the term, and he showed on which days those assignments had to be handed in. He said that these dates were firmly fixed, and that no student should presume that the deadline did not apply to her or him. He asked if the students were clear about this, and all heads nodded.

When the first deadline arrived, all but one student turned in their papers. The one student went to the professor’s office and pleaded for more time -- just a single day! The student spoke of illness and hardships which had prevented him from completing the assignment, but all the research was finished and a few more hours would allow the paper to be ready. The professor relented, and granted a one-day extension without penalty. The student was extremely grateful, and sent a note thanking the professor profusely.

When the second deadline arrived, three papers were missing from the pile of student productions. The student who had previously asked for an extension was back, and so were two others with him. As before, all the reasons expressed for failure to complete the assignment were touching and moving and tear-jerking, and the professor again allowed some latitude. The deadline was set aside, and the papers were required by the end of the week. A veritable chorus of praise filled the professor’s small office, and blessings were heaped upon him.

When the third due date arrived, the professor was inundated with requests for extensions. Nearly a quarter of the class begged for more time -- so many other assignments and tests were due, so many books still needed to be read, so much work was required this late in the semester. But this time the professor held firm. No extensions were to be given. Grades would be marked lower for tardiness. Stunned silence filled the classroom.

The large delegation that met the professor in the hallway near his office was very vocal in their anger. “You can’t do this to us! It isn’t fair!”

“What isn’t fair?” asked the professor. “At the beginning of the term you knew the due date of each paper, and you agreed to turn in your work at those times.”

“But you let so-and-so have extensions. You can’t tell us now that we can’t have a few extra days.”

“Maybe you are right,” said the professor. He opened his grade book and made a rather public subtraction from the grades given to the four former late papers. Each of those students, now also in this group, protested loudly. “You can’t do that, Professor! That’s not fair!”

“What’s not fair?” asked the professor. “Justice or mercy?” The question blanketed them heavily as each student silently slipped away. And the professor? When he reported the incident to others, he simply concluded (paraphrasing Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady): “They’d grown accustomed to my grace!”

We grow easily accustomed to God’s grace. We need to become “wow!”ed again by the amazing thing that happens when God chooses to start over in love toward us, even after the Great Syllabus demands a divine reckoning....

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This Week
October 2, 2016
Proper 22 | OT 27 | Pent 20
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Looking Ahead
October 9, 2016
Proper 23 | OT 28 | Pent 21
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October 16, 2016
Proper 24 | OT 29 | Pent 22
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September 25, 2016
Proper 21 | OT 26 | Pent 19
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August 28, 2016
Proper 17 | OT 22 | Pent 15
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