Our Theology of Grace
Grace pervades everything. As United Methodists, we share the conviction that grace “is the unmerited and love action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit.” We celebrate prevenient grace, which precedes salvation; justifying grace, which illuminates God’s accepting and forgiving love; and sanctifying grace, which nurtures our growth in the love of God and our neighbor.
- Article: “Why Am I Still a United Methodist: Grace for All, Grace in All” by Bishop William Willimon. One of the denomination’s best professors explores grace as the power of God that works within us.
Scripture: Romans 8:31-39
Small Group Session Agenda
We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. (Breathe Deeply).
Marvelous, Infinite and Matchless God: we thank You for the gift of Your presence and for Your amazing grace. Without condition or qualification, Your unmerited favor has called us here and makes it possible to be in a right relationship with You. Your grace precedes our existence, justifies our unworthiness, and sanctifies and perfects our humanity. Thank You. Thank You for this precious gift. Center us now in the power of this moment. Experience our hearts, minds and wills bowing before You as we study, learn and grow together. Let Your will be done, even now. In the Name of the Most Merciful One, we pray and ask it all. Amen.
In the gift of this moment, we affirm that we are divinely loved and lovable.
We are the children of God.
Together, we will learn from the actions and words of one another.
Christ’s lessons on love are centered in how we treat others and in how we treat ourselves.
We will exercise courage in this study as we share stories of struggle and strength.
We will stay at the table and receive those stories with grace.
We will not be afraid to launch into the deep.
We will commit to the vulnerability necessary to allow God to break us open.
We will set and respect boundaries and honor confidentiality together.
When uncertainty arises, we will remember the Spirit of “peace that passes our own understanding” and can intercede for us.
We will remember that even when we don’t feel “United,”
The uniting love of Christ can reveal a pathway to greater
wisdom and mutual respect.
No matter what, there is a place for each one of us in this study together.
Let us hold each other up in prayer, hold each other accountable in love, and
trust that our God is making all things new.
Thank you for the gift of being present to one another in this holy time.
Video with the Rev. Claire Matheny
Rev. Matheny is pastor of Kittamaqundi Community Church in Columbia, Md.
Head & Heart Discussion
- In the video’s cake story, there are countless reasons why it makes sense that the little girl not be allowed access to the table. When do our human rules – spoken and unspoken – cloud the pathway for grace? How can we better extend God’s grace to all?
- In the article by Bishop Willimon, he warns against a “mushy” interpretation of grace that won’t require us to change anything. What is the downfall of receiving grace passively as bystanders rather than being active participants in God’s transforming grace?
- What does it mean for The United Methodist Church to keep “growing in grace” as a denomination? How do we receive the words of Romans 8:31-39 and the grace we know in Christ at such a time as this?
BEYOND THIS SESSION
Prayer and Pathway to Journaling
Often, when we become reflexively resistant to what we’ve experienced through study, it is pointing towards an area worthy of more reflection and prayer. In this part of study, we invite you to examine your areas of resistance or struggle. Allow God to reveal how transformation can occur in those areas.
Use these open-ended questions to facilitate your journey from head to heart:
- What surprised you or caught your attention?
- How does the discussion we had apply to your life, your church, our denomination?
- Where is the Spirit revealing to you areas for growth and transformation?
- How does what we talked about transform your relationship with God and others?
- Write a prayer to ask for God’s support and enlightenment, which applies what you learned, and then go forth and live it.
- Book: A Grace-full Life by Jorge Acevedo and Wes Olds. In this four-session study, grace is defined as God's all-reaching, never-ending, game-changing love for you and me.
- Movie: Les Misérables, 2012
- Hymn: "Grace Greater than Our Sin" #365
To learn more about the hymns and prayers that sing of our Wesleyan Theology of Grace, visit The United Methodist Hymnal, pages 336-536; Prevenient Grace (pages 337-360); Justifying Grace (pages 361-381); and Sanctifying and Perfecting Grace (pages 382-536).
- John Wesley Sermon: Paraphrased and excerpted from: “The Scripture Way of Salvation”