Summary: This is the clergy talk I do when serving as Weekend Spiritual Director for a Women’s Walk to Emmaus. With slight modification I also use it for a Men’s Emmaus Walk, and it can be adapted into two effective sermons your local Church.
Elisa Morgan, president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International, testifies:
"I’m probably the least likely person to head a mothering organization. I grew up in a broken home. My parents were divorced when I was 5. My older sister, younger brother, and I were raised by my alcoholic mother.
"While my mother meant well--truly she did--most of my memories are of me mothering her rather than her mothering me. Alcohol altered her love, turning it into something that wasn’t love. I remember her weaving down the hall of our ranch home in Houston, Texas, glass of scotch in hand. She would wake me at 2 a.m. just to make sure I was asleep. I would wake her at 7 a.m. to try to get her off to work."
"Sure, there were good times like Christmas and birthdays when she went all out and celebrated us as children. But even those days ended with the warped glow of alcohol. What she did right was lost in what she did wrong.
"When I was asked to consider leading MOPS International, a vital ministry that nurtures mothers, I went straight to my knees--and then to the therapist’s office. How could God use me--who had never been mothered-to nurture other mothers?
"The answer came as I gazed into the eyes of other moms around me and saw their needs mirroring my own. God seemed to take my deficits and make them my offering.” [-- Morgan, Elisa. Christian Parenting Today, (May/June 1999), quoted in Leadership Journal, "To Illustrate Plus," Vol. 21, No. 1, p. 69.].
The Great nineteenth century British Baptist pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon reminds us, “The trials of Christian life you shall find heavy, but you will find grace will make them light.” [--Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Christian History, NO. 29.]. Jesus assures us as He did Paul in II Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Good Morning, My name is David Reynolds, and the title of my talk is “The Means of Grace.” Our Emmaus clergy team members are sharing the wonderful message of God’s amazing grace. “Grace is: ‘The unearned, undeserved favor of God, or in one word, mercy!’” It is “the application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner.” Paul declares in Ephesians 2:8, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith [in Jesus Christ],” and in Romans 5:21 he affirms: “Where sin increased, grace, increased all the more. . .”
From the moment of our conception the Holy Spirit begins to woe us into a personal Father-child relationship with God by using people, the Church, and events in our lives as instruments of His grace. This is the stage of grace we call Prevenient Grace. Prevenient Grace leads us to the moment we say our personal “yes” to this love relationship God offers us, and this second stage of grace we refer to as Justifying Grace.
I can really praise God and relate to experiencing His Prevenient and Justifying Grace, so compellingly shared with us yesterday by Christy Phillips and Lisa Guilliams. I would love to share my personal testimony of such amazing grace, but time will not permit. I am, therefore, including that testimony, along with the major points of this talk, in a handout which you will receive later today.
Prevenient and Justifying Grace only marked the beginning of my journey with Jesus in a personal relationship; there have been countless moments since then that He has touched me by His amazing grace. “MEANS OF GRACE ARE THE SACRAMENTAL MOMENTS IN OUR LIVES AND THE WAYS WE CORPORATELY CELEBRATE GOD’S GRACE.” They are those special sacred moments when Christ is re-presented, when we become aware of His closeness once more.
Means of Grace often refer to the Sacraments of the Church. “THE SACRAMENTS ARE THOSE ACTS OF WORSHIP, INSTITUTED BY CHRIST, IN WHICH CHRIST IS REPRESENTED TO US IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE ANEW IN OUR LIVES.”
Until 313 A. D. the Early Church practiced only two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. From 313 to 590 A. D. the Church developed a more elaborate liturgy, and the number of rites considered as sacraments increased to seven which are still practiced today by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Faiths.
“ALL CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS RECOGNIZE BAPTISM AND HOLY COMMUNION AS SACRAMENTS.” God, whose power is limitless, is not confined to bestowing His grace upon us through these two sacraments alone. “Means of Grace are channels God uses to share His grace with us.” “BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH THE HOLY SPIRIT RENEWS OUR SPIRITS THROUGH EACH AND EVERY MEANS OF GRACE.” Every occasion in the Christian life may become a “Means of Grace.” I pray that this Walk to Emmaus will be a “Means of Grace” for each one of you.