Preaching Connection: Grace

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Movies for Preaching

Awakenings (1990)

Awakenings (1990).  Written by Oliver Sacks (book) and Steven Zaillian (screenplay). Directed by Penny Marshall.  Starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.  Rating: PG-13. 121 minutes.  Rotten Tomatoes: 88%; Metacritic 74%. So there is Leonard L. (Robert De Niro), virtually a lifelong victim of a baffling disease, later understood as a form of Parkinsonianism, apparently…

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Reading for Preaching

The Seven Perennial Sins and Their Offspring

Quoting “The Capital of the World” By Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway “mentions a joke circulating in Madrid.  It seems that a remorseful father placed a personal ad in the newspaper El Liberal, which read: ‘PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA’”  What the father had forgotten is that Paco (short for...
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The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

Willard advocates for people who need the grace of Christ in some obvious way: “The flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned-outs.  The broke and the broken.  The drug heads and the divorced.  The HIV-positive and the herpes-ridden.  The brain-damaged, the incurably ill.  The barren and the pregnant too many times or at the wrong time.  The...
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A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Norman’s father, a Presbyterian minister, “was not a great fly caster, but he was accurate and stylish and wore a glove on his casting hand.  As he buttoned his glove in preparation to giving us a lesson, he would say, ‘It is an art that is performed on a four-count rhythm between ten and two...
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The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the church’s inexhaustible treasure, from which showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost!...
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Philemon’s Problem: The Daily Dilemma of the Christian

“Jesus was curiously unpreoccupied about the future of those who believed through him. His attention went rather to those who were deprived: to the running sores of the leper; to the milky, sightless eye; to the dragging, withered leg; to the slack-mouthed village idiot; to the shrunken belly; even to the dead man in the...
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Between Noon and Three: A Parable of Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace

In Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, “the fatted calf is the supreme sacrament. Grace is in order to the celebration of life: ‘Let us eat and by merry, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ Indeed, grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all...
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God’s Spy: Malcolm Muggeridge, 1903-1990

“Walks with Malcolm, and he loved to walk, around London, around the East Sussex countryside near his home, were always a feast of wit and laughter. I have never met a better, or a wiser, talker. His sense of the absurd was sharp, intense, and immediate, carried on a conversational wave of hilarious exuberance. Yet...
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“When Grace Arrives Unannounced”

“She went out for cigarettes. That’s my favorite detail of the story told by Ashley Smith. It was not a noble calling; it wasn’t even a noble errand. But the craving for nicotine at 2 o’clock in the morning apparently led Smith into the loaded gun of one Brian Nichols, a man who was wanted...
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Into that Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder

Franz Stangl, if you believe him and his wife, drifted into being commandant of Treblinka. He was assigned to this post by powerful Nazis whom he feared. Cowardice prevented him from abandoning his awful work. Nowhere to flee. He would be killed or, at least, imprisoned if he resisted the Nazi program. Finally his wife...
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“A Kinder, Gentler Calvinism”

Many Calvinists sees the non-salvific divine favor exhibited in 1) natural gifts like rain, 2) restraining of evil, 3) positive acts of civil righteousness. But surely there are others: marriage reconciliation between unbelievers, accompanied by repentance and healing. There are lots of ways in which non-salvific grace appears to work. Relational sensitivities on the job,...
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“You are Accepted,” in A Chorus of Witnesses

Tillich states eloquently the nature of grace, even though, as is often the case with him, he generalizes up from a Christian particularity to an existential generality. So, at the key point where we would expect to read the name of God, we get instead “that which is greater than you.” So Christian preachers will...
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Body and Soul

Claude Rawlings, a young composer, discovers every so often that a snippet of a melodic phrase would pop right into his head–seemingly from nowhere. He talks with his teacher Weisfeld, another secularist, about this phenomenon—“the sensation of being a receiver, of the stuff arriving as if by cosmic special delivery. It was both tremendously exciting...
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