Conspiracy of Grace

On a recent post, I wrote in reply to Dale http://lensgirl53.wordpress.com/

I liked your comment: “There is no such thing as a perfect church, we would have to get rid of the people first”. Your comment made me smile.

I once heard an inspirational talk from the American teacher and preacher, Mike Yaconelli entitled: “Conspiracy of Grace”. I have it on tape, I liked it so much.

Near the beginning of his talk he mentions “The Parable of the Great Banquet” (Luke 15:15-23).
A certain man is preparing a great banquet to which he had invited many important guests. When everything is prepared, he sends out his servants to tell the invited guests ‘All is ready.’ All of a sudden, none of his guests can go. One person says: ‘I have to prepare a foundation’. Another one says ‘I’ve gotta go to my daughter’s wedding.’ One by one, each guest comes up with an excuse. Finally no-one who was invited can go. Not one can go. The man is angry and so he sends his servants out into the streets instructing them to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. The servants report back to their master that the house is not yet full. Imagine that. He’s got all the crystal, he’s got all the linen, he’s got everything prepared and ready. And the house is only half full. There is still more room. And so the master sends  the servants out into the country lanes and instructs them to drag the  people in. Anybody you meet, the homeless, the feckless, anyone at all. Just bring them on in. And so they go into the country lanes. “What are you doing? “Nothing!” “Well, now you’re coming with me.’ They weren’t all the fancy people, the neat people, the rich people who were originally invited. It was us.

This parable, says Mike Yaconelli, is the parable of the Church. “This hodge-podge group of people who weren’t invited in the first place but ended up showing up! Not the fancy, neat, rich, powerful people who were all too busy. None of them would come. We ended up here. We are the Church. Us, the misfits. This is the conspiracy of Grace”.

And so I agree with you. There is no perfect Church. We are in it, us, this hodge-podge of mixed up, messed up people who weren’t invited in the first place, yet ended up showing up. 

The conspiracy of grace

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About Gentle Breeze

Julia is married to Kevin. They live together in Todmorden with their black and white cat Willow. Todmorden is a small rural town nestling among the Pennine hills in the Upper Calder Valley, on the border of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. Julia is a mixture of contradictions. She happily shares her email address with her husband; yet when she married she kept her own surname.
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5 Responses to Conspiracy of Grace

  1. lensgirl53 says:

    A really good story to show how God’s church is for all of us. Sadly, the church I have been a member of for nearly 23 years, has the usual power people with money and position and are charter families who lay claim to its ownership. This has allowed them to disregard the “have nots” who would like to be a part by having their opinions valued and their presence known. Grace is respected as something only God should give…..not the status quo. This is my observation of what has been going on for a long time at this particular church. Love and blessings to you and yours!

    • I guess I am loose in my definition of Church. It might not be confined to a particular building or a particular place. In my opinion God’s love is far too wild and free to be caged by us. I have mixed feelings about the current church where I attend. The same people are in charge who were there when I left as a teenager. I commend their years of faithful service. Yet the church has grown older and smaller. There are insufficient younger ones for them to hand on to; and we drift in and out without the same commitment they had.
      It is a steady sad decline. Julia

  2. paulfg says:

    Julia, I read your post – and then your reply to Dale. And was reminded again how easily we “cage” God into the four walls we see as we drive by all the denominational meeting places. And we then focus all our opinions on that one small part of “church”.
    Just as when Jesus was walking the Temple and synagogue was “church” – a place he attended and in which he “worked”. Yet on a mountain side, in a room, beside a stream or a well, from a boat – anywhere and everywhere was “His Church”. Temples and synagogues survive, the denominational churches survive – yet (perhaps) never has the wider church – in all the weird and wonderful places we all meet to share “something” of each other – been more needed and (maybe) more ignored.

    This post inspired me from a direction I never expected. Thank you.

    • It was at my first Greenbelt where I heard Mike Yaconelli teach, from the middle of a field. There were no four walls there. Yesterday within the four walls we were being urged to get involved in Evangelism. It just left me cold. I am still more concerned about a hurting ex-member and how to reach out to her. What is Evangelism about? Is it about stopping the decline in church attendance and more bums on seats? Vaguely a verse came to mind which I have just looked up.
      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15)
      It sounds bad and that I am condemning my fellow attendees on a Sunday morning. Perhaps unwittingly I am. Maybe I am questioning our motives. Is it through love or fear that we are being urged to evangelise? And to what are we inviting people? The status quo as Dale mentions, or handing on the baton to others who might do things differently. In many ways I take more risks; am more real; open; honest and have as deep if not deeper connections in this wider Church. And you are part of that. Thank you

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