Grace or Grace?

A few Saturday’s ago I ventured into the world of the “crafter.” Do you know what I mean? They are the folks whose favorite store is Michael’s and are counting the days until the opening of the next Hobby Lobby.

It is a world of glue-guns and yarn and sequins and muslin; it is a world of stenciling and stamping and beading and painting. It is a world primarily dominated by women. Therefore, it was with fear and a little bit of trembling I entered the “crafter” world. How could I compete with those who dream about the next cute “thing” that can be made from Popsicle sticks, pinecones, and Styrofoam?

I began my little venture in August; stenciling words important to our Christian faith—words such as faith, hope, love, peace, blessed, forgiven, and others. With weather-worn barn wood, panels from old doors, and even pieces from our old rotting potting table; I carefully inscribed words of rich Christian meaning onto the wood.

Searching for a Christmas bazaar that fit my calendar and far enough away not to be recognized; I selected the Jefferson Elementary Holiday Bazaar in north Tacoma. Twenty-five dollars bought a 4’ by 10’ piece of real-estate in the school’s cafeteria to try and sell my wares. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In addition to making a little money, I had several good conversations.

I encountered, however, more evidence we live in a post-Christian world. It was clear many weren’t interested in my creations. It may have been they didn’t like my work. I concede the point. But I don’t think that completely describes what I was observing.

On three different occasions people stopped and commented on the aged wood stenciled “Grace”. One was a grandma who wanted to take a photo and send it to her granddaughter named Grace. One was a mom and dad who said they were glad their daughter Grace wasn’t with them because she would have begged them to purchase it. The third was a woman who told me the piece would be a good one for someone with the name.

What struck me was their association. The word’s first meaning had become a child’s name. It’s a beautiful girl’s name. But the context of my table of stenciled wood had nothing to do with someone’s name; all of it, in one way or another, had everything to do with Jesus, Who John 1 proclaims “full of grace”.

Grace is a gift; it is an unearned, unwarranted, and undeserved gift. And Jesus is laden with it—full and ready to dispense. But only those who know their true spiritual condition before a Holy God are going to be interested. Grace isn’t valued or necessary for the one who doesn’t know he’s spiritually bankrupt.

There was a lot of noise that day at the Jefferson Elementary Holiday Bazaar—40 plus tables of “crafters” trying to make a deal. There was a Santa in the corner who waited for children to jump in his lap for a photo. The school’s choir added to the noise singing everything holiday but nothing Christmas the top of each hour.

I wondered that day as I wonder still; how many think the word “Grace” is just for the girl given the name? When in actuality, all are in desperate need of it.

I was selling “Grace” that day for $30. Beyond amazing, He offers it for free. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8). And what a gift it is; have you received it?

Pastor Rich Hamlin

January 2, 2014