by Tony Nester

The Riches of His Grace
Tony Nester
Ephesians 1:1-8

The closing sentence of this Scripture passage is one of the most attractive verses of the New Testament - except in one part of it.
Listen to it again:
{7} In him [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace {8} that he lavished on us.

The verse speaks of redemption. Redemption is a good word. Redemption is about rescuing people from bad situations. That's good news. We like it.
The verse also speaks of forgiveness. Forgiveness is setting people free from guilt, from penalties and releasing us from our mistakes and wrong doing. We like forgiveness. It's a wonderful word.
Now comes my favorite part of the verse: "the riches of his grace." This is a beautiful image that invites us to imagine the overflow of all that Christ has done for us through
o his life, death and resurrection: healing, wisdom, love, new birth, eternal life, transformation, the Kingdom of God - all these riches and more than we can name.
I met here with a couple who were planning a wedding in our sanctuary. The future bride had grown up in a Roman Catholic Church.
She balked when I led them up onto the Chancel to indicate where they would be standing and lighting candles during the ceremony.
She paused and took a deep breath. "We weren't to go into this part of the church - it was too holy for us."
"Well," I said, "we believe God's grace goes all the way to altar - it doesn't stop at the Chancel steps."
Of course it doesn't stop - the riches of his grace has been lavished upon us - God is not miserly with his grace.
And yet there is one part of the verse that isn't appealing. The verse is covered in blood. All we have been given through Christ - redemption, forgiveness, grace - comes, says Paul, "through his [Christ's] blood." It's not a pretty image.
I once asked Evelyn who has been an obstetrical nurse to b ...

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