Heathdale flower 24th June 2020

Final Words

The final words of a book matter a lot, and God's book ends with grace.

Heathdale flower

When you come to the final sentence of a book, how do you react? Is it a sense of relief — I’ve made it through this novel? Is it more of a sense of ‘Oh, no, I don’t want this to end!’ Or does the final sentence bring a sense of completion, allowing you to gain a feel for the whole picture.

I remember being at a teachers’ conference where the children’s author, Mem Fox, delivered the keynote address. In this address she spoke about how it took her more than 19 attempts to get the final sentence of her book, ‘Possum Magic’ right.
I was amazed to hear this! So many attempts to write a simple sentence. Mem Fox was making the point that the final words are just as important, perhaps more so, than the opening words.

Recently as I was reading the final verses from the final chapter in the final book of the Bible, (Revelation 22:16-22) Mem Fox’s words resonated as I realised the significance of these words.

"I, Jesus, sent my Angel to testify to these things for the churches. I'm the Root and Branch of David, the Bright Morning Star." "Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride. Whoever hears, echo, "Come!" Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink, Drink freely of the Water of Life!… He who testifies to all these things says it again: "I'm on my way! I'll be there soon!" Yes! Come, Master Jesus! The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you. Oh, Yes!”
Revelation 22:16 – 22 (The Message)

The final thought God wanted to leave with us in His written word is grace! And so it should be, as there is nothing greater than God’s grace.

When John Newton wrote his well-known hymn about grace, he used the words ‘amazing’ to describe it. As I have been mulling over the concept of God’s grace recently, the more I thought about it the more it occurred to me that it truly is amazing!

A documentary made by Bill Moyers on the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ explores the song’s origins and enduring power. It compares 24 very different performances of the hymn and each performer comments on how this hymn has impacted him/her. One of the scenes in the documentary is of Wembley Stadium in London, where a rock festival was being held. As with such festivals, it was a day-long affair where several bands played. By the end of the day the documentary showed a crowd that was jumping around madly to the music. Into this setting walks a young African-American woman, Jessye Norman, an opera singer. Imagine that, an opera singer asked to conclude a rock concert!

Her final song was ‘Amazing Grace’. To her credit and incredible bravery, she decided to do this unaccompanied and slowly but surely the words came from her mouth and washed over the audience with an extraordinary effect. The words…Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now I’m found: Was blind but now I see! By the time she had reached the last verse a strange power had descended over the audience, in fact, over the entire stadium. All were quiet and subdued; you could hear the proverbial pin drop. Such was the power of God’s grace as it was being proclaimed over a group of people who only a few moments earlier had no inclination to hear or think of God, let alone allow His grace to influence them.

It doesn’t matter if we are followers of Jesus or not, everyone is amazed by grace, God’s grace. Though we may not realise at the time, we all thirst for God’s grace and when it is seen in deed, in word or via song, the world falls silent. This is truly amazing!

My prayer for our community is that we not only thirst for God’s grace but also experience it individually and collectively but we may also be God’s agents of grace. God’s grace is able to work through each member of this community and as such, others are drawn deeper into relationship with Him. We are a blessed community, as many times over our nigh on 40-year history, we have known and experienced God’s grace. May we continue to pass this blessing on to others; families and wider community members for His glory.