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Life in Greencastle: A Grace-filled Place

This was several years ago - still in Greencastle, but several years ago.  It must have been my junior year of college, for I remember taking my mail up to my room on the third floor of the Delta Upsilon fraternity house at 626 Seminary Street and sitting down on the horribly over-used and wonderfully comfortable sofa my mother gladly let me unearth from our basement back in Zionsville.  The semester had just begun just like it is beginning all over again for a new generation of DePauw students.  Like any serious, dedicated college student, I had taken care to set up a wonderful entertainment and sound system in our room.  

I had my roommate, Andrew Smith, to thank for this luxurious arrangement.  Andrew was a great friend ever since my elementary school days, and back in the summer when we were deciding what each of us would bring to enhance the quality of our little room in that old fraternity house Andrew offered up some high quality speakers his dad no longer needed.  It was an uneven agreement from the start then.  He would be bringing the pleasures of high-end technology to induce calm study, relaxing afternoons, and perhaps other music for more celebratory occasions.  And I would bring that old couch upon which one could enjoy said tunes.

In my hands I held a new cd wrapped in that slick cellophane that was always impossibly hard to breach.  But after a few moments of prying and jabbing, I managed to tear a corner and open the case.  It was the third album of a group that some of you will know, but that wasn't really popular until the release of this album.  It certainly wasn't what was normally played in fraternity houses back at the end of the 20th century.  

The album was 40 Acres by Caedmon's Call, a group out of the scorched land of Texas that had chosen to place a bright green image of row after row of verdant farmland on the cover - 40 acres of Midwestern glory like the scene you can find out in Putnam County right now.  And like the scene on the front of that case, the music I soon heard brought brightness and hope, seemed to fill that room I shared with Andrew and provided a great start to a new year.  

It is still one of the most hopeful albums I have, and halfway through this week I thought of it again as I was putting pieces together for worship on Sunday.  I'm thinking particularly of that first song off that album, the first one I would have heard that day back in the late summer of 1999 in room #351.  You'll have to imagine it in your mind and make up the tune perhaps.  And you won't have the benefit of Andrew's awesome speakers, but here it goes:

Is this the strange feeling
Of you working all to good ...

When I asked for and deserved a stone
You broke and gave your body as bread ...

Do you know it?  Do you hear it?  It's a song of incredulous wonder and profound gratitude.  Like most of the album, it's fundamentally about grace.  A grace good enough to surprise us, to overtake us, and to leave us with full hearts and lips stammering to say an appropriate thanks.  A grace that has the last word on our mistakes, our wounds, our pain:

There you go working good from my bad
There you go making robes from my rags
There you go melting crowns from my calves
There you go working good of all I have
Till all I have's not that bad

Yup.  Grace.  Pure and true and real.

When we gather together for worship this Sunday, we'll have the chance to hear a story upon which this song easily could have been based:  the story of Joseph and his brothers.  But even before we get to Sunday, I hope God helps you to remember the profound truth of that chorus above.  Or, as Paul says, to know that "all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

May you sense God's presence, friends, and may you know that presence is gracious and loving towards you and this world.

in Christ,

Wes

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