Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Dorothy In A Circle" preached @ Tinney Chapel

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Dorothy In A Circle or God's ever-widening circle of Grace

Today's sermon on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost at Tinney Chapel was based mostly on Ephesians 2:1-10, somewhat less on Luke 15:1-7 and perhaps even less on the character of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard Of Oz, the well-known production which enjoyed an anniversary this past week, said Rev. Sue Gross.

In that classic movie, we all remember Dorothy, accompanied by three imperfect and incomplete friends, however loyal they might have been: a cowardly lion, a scarecrow and a tin man. Still, they--along with her dog, Toto, formed a defensive circle of sorts for each other during Dorothy's search for home.

The Pastor made it clear that Ephesians is one of her favorite Bible books, easily in her top 5 and perhaps in her top 2.

In the course of Pastor Sue's delivery, she told a story of a teacher, whose real name was actually Dorothy, who kept wandering away from her group of tourist friends, who feared they might lose her, and that Dorothy might become lost in a very real sense.

To prevent this, they formed a kind of unofficial circle as the group toured the sights, and as long as they could keep Dorothy within that circle, she would be safe. It required keen observation and attention to detail, not to mention some real love, but they made it happen. Pastor Sue compared this kind of care to that of Christ in His role as the Good Shepherd, who does not lose any of His sheep. After all, reminded the Pastor, while we were still sinners, Christ loved us enough to die for us on a cross.

Before we were old enough to know God, He knew us, said Pastor Sue, who described Christ's outreaching love for us and just how that kind of love figures into the theological concept of Grace--prevenient, justifying and sanctifying, which always manifests itself as a protective circle around us. It is through this Grace that God saves us and sustains us.

In that same way, we ourselves are called upon to treat our fellow believers in the church: to love them, to encourage them, to protect them, to guide them by forming a protective circle of the Body of Christ. We could say that our mission is to gather, nurture and equip others for ministry in the Name of Christ. Anytime one of us wanders away or gets lost, the others will round us up and bring us safely back into the circle.

God claims us and names us, reminded Pastor Sue. Once we were nobodies, but through Christ we become somebodies, part of the Body of Christ. How comforting it is to know that each of us is known to God, actually known to Him by our names.

Each of us still has a need to expand our horizons, grow in our faith, test our wings in many ways. In other words, we want the freedom to be ourselves and we may need to explore in order to do that. We may need to make a few mistakes, in the knowledge that we have a loyal, tight circle of friends in the church and a Savior who will keep us on track, encourage us, forgive us when we need it. We need our church family to surround us in that protective circle where we can always find forgiveness.

There is Grace, reminded the Pastor, that is sufficient for all our needs: A circle of Grace for all of us.

Finally, Pastor Sue told the story of Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion fame) and his assigned "storm home" while a schoolboy in Minnesota. It was a family at whose home he could find shelter during unexpected storms that blew in while school was in session. As Pastor Sue remembered Keillor's story, it seemed very much like the promise inherent in the old hymn, Amazing Grace. The church, said Pastor Sue, is our "storm home," through God's ever expanding circle of Grace. It's all inclusive, as God claims us, names us, helps us.


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