Devotion - May 15

[Psalms 71-75 / Proverbs 15 / Ephesians 2:1-10]

I’m not sure if you have ever opened up the Presbyterian Book of Order. It’s the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), alongside the Bible. There is a great deal on polity and discipline, but the real gem is the book of worship. Since we are considering worship, and especially personal worship this week, I thought I’d share this paragraph:

W-1.0102: Grace and Gratitude

God acts with grace; we respond with gratitude. God claims us as beloved children; we proclaim God’s saving love. God redeems us from sin and death; we rejoice in the gift of new life. This rhythm of divine action and human response—found throughout Scripture, human history, and everyday events—shapes all of Christian faith, life, and worship. Pattern of worship – grace and gratitude.

This is the basic call and response pattern of every act of worship: God’s grace that calls us, seeks us, loves us, forgives us, comforts and challenges us – and our response of gratitude. Karl Barth wrote this:

Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning. Not by virtue of any necessity of the concepts as such. But we are speaking of the grace of the God who is God for man, and of the gratitude of man as his response to this grace. Here, at any rate, the two belong together, so that only gratitude can correspond to grace, and this correspondence cannot fail. Its failure, ingratitude, is sin, transgression. Radically and basically all sin is simply ingratitude—man’s refusal of the one but necessary thing which is proper to and is required of him with whom God has graciously entered into covenant.

That observation – that “radically and basically all sin is simply ingratitude” – has transformed my view of sin. It makes sense. Ingratitude refuses a relationship of dependence on God’s grace. Ingratitude boasts in wealth, might and wisdom as if they were self-generated rather than being gifts of God. Gratitude, on the other hand, recognizes the abundant goodness of God’s grace and responds with thanks expressed in obedience, honest confession and humble service – to mention only a few things.

Today, let’s practice this call and response: to listen to the message of grace in the Scripture, and respond with gratitude all day. Gratitude that thanks God throughout the day, as thunder follows lightening.

Grateful to God for you,