When I met Grace she was well into her nineties. Her hair was steely gray and she was small and spry, although she was confined to a wheelchair by then. On my visits with her, the story of her life unfolded. Growing up in an orphanage run by strict religious people, she was struck or scolded if she didn’t toe the line and learned that God’s love was something you earned by being good, but she could never be quite good enough. Set loose in her late teens she lived a difficult life on the street for a while, but then went to work in a sewing shop, where she also lived in a small room. The people who ran the shop came to love Grace. She said this was the first time she knew kindness and love. After some time, the people invited Grace to go to church with them. She would talk endlessly about the soothing hymns and prayers and once said, “When I went there it was as if God had been looking for me and finally found me.” Later, Grace married John and they had two boys. Life wasn’t always easy. Grace went through periods of depression and had to struggle to return to a full life. They struggled financially sometimes. Grace and John took their family to the Methodist Church, where those soothing hymns continued to pour God’s love into their lives and people helped them during difficult times. And Grace did sewing for people in the church and in their town. On my visits with Grace I often thought, “She has the right name.  God’s grace – abundant, undeserved love – sought and found Grace and she was able to give it back to others.”

Perhaps you’ve wondered what it means to be United Methodist. This Sunday, Sept. 8, we start a new sermon series, Finding Our Way in the Methodist Tradition, and begin with Returning to Grace. God’s grace for us is at the heart of who we are as Methodists. So we’ll return to that heart and explore God’s seeking for us, our accepting God’s grace, and God working in our lives to always draw us closer to God and one another. Maybe we’ll even meet my friend, Grace, in a story or two.

We’ll also be celebrating Christian Education Sunday on Sept. 8, giving Bibles to third through fifth grade students and recognizing teachers and leaders.

See you in worship!

Blessings, Sharon