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A Tale of GRACE

Yes, last week’s letter was about grace… and so was last Sunday’s sermon… and the invitation to the Lord’s Table on the Sunday before… grace upon grace upon grace… We never seem to be able to say enough about grace- God’s amazing grace.
When C.S. Lewis was asked what made Christianity unique among all the world’s religions, his answer was “grace.” He went on to detail features of other religions that mirror facets of our faith. Then he concluded that grace is what sets Christianity apartGod’s free, unmerited gifts. Faith, hope, love, joy, strength, healing, forgiveness… even the life we have, every breath we take, every glimpse of beauty, our ability to think and reason and understand… all are gifts from God that we cannot earn and do not deserve. Without grace, we do not exist. Let me say that again- without grace we do not exist! So today, I am writing once again about grace… a dramatic, beautiful tale of grace that has been unfolding in my neighborhood over the last two weeks.
It all began on Friday morning, two weeks ago, when a group of college students began their work on a painting crew. They had been working together all summer, earning money for their college year ahead. As they began their work on a home in Chestnut Hill, suddenly one of the young men snapped. We still do not have a clear picture of why he snapped… There was no argument, no raised voices, no anger expressed. The painting crew was working together as they had for weeks, when suddenly one of the young men drew a knife and began stabbing his friend. These two young men have been friends from childhood; they have played at one another’s homes, competed on the same sports teams, and shared family time. They chose to work together on the painting crew this summer because of that friendship. But suddenly, one friend began to hack away at the back and neck of the other… between 10 and 20 times. Thankfully the other young men on the painting crew came to Wilson’s aid, subduing the attacker. Then they put their wounded friend in a car and drove him to the nearest hospital- by God’s providence that hospital was only a block away. Doctors worked feverishly to stabilize Wilson for transport to Temple’s Trauma Center, one of the best in the country. At that point, Wilson was just barely hanging on to life.
Wilson’s parents raced to Temple Hospital to be with their son. Imagine how helpless a parent must feel in that moment. Yet, Wilson’s parents have a strong faith, so they knew what to dothey bowed in prayer. Mary and Bill understood that only a holy God could save their son after such a brutal attack. And thus, the prayer vigil began… that spread across our town… from one town to the next… one call… one text… one email… from the gathering of people who love Wilson, to people who had never met him, all bowed in prayer for God’s healing grace. The prayer warriors of Lenape Valley Church joined the vigil. Our worshipping community added our prayers on Sunday. All of us trusting God to transform every hand that touched Wilson to be God’s healing hand of grace. So many surgeries, so many challenges, so many hard moments, so much pain… But on Friday, August 6th, just two weeks after the attack, Wilson walked out of the hospital. What a miracle! Those of us who have been praying for Wilson have had the privilege of being on the front row to see God’s amazing grace at work!
But there is more to this story of grace… It would be so easy to focus just on Wilson and his family, but there is another young man and another family that Mary and Bill would want us to remember. During this challenging time, Wilson’s parents have sent out a daily email updating the community on Wilson’s progress and challenges, asking for continued prayer. At the end of every email, they conclude with a request for prayer for the young man who stabbed Wilson and for his family. They have known this young man since he was a little boy, so they see him not as Wilson’s attacker, but as Wilson’s friend who is very sick. The journey for that young man and his family will be hard for a long time. Mary and Bill are committed to be prayer warriors for him for the long haul ahead. What an example of grace! I wonder how God will use the witness of Mary and Bill. Think of the young adults who are friends of Wilson and friends of Wilson’s brothers and sister. They are witnessing a grace that this world does not understand… God’s grace shining through worried parents, grace upon grace upon grace. I wonder how we might also be instruments of God’s grace in this broken world.
Wilson still has a long way to go. Please add Wilson and his family to your prayer list because the trauma of the attack will take a long time to heal. Mary and Bill would ask that you also add Paul and his family to your prayer list. May God’s amazing grace work miracles in the lives of both these young men.
With you, trusting God’s amazing grace,
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