Theologian Robert McAfee Brown often spoke of the struggle we have with affirming grace in the face of the seeming rule of violence and power in our world. He was very fond of the music of J. S. Bach and naturally drew on the great composer’s work to speak eloquently about God’s grace.

Brown noted that Bach’s Fugue in C Minor includes several variations on a short theme. When you first hear the piece, the theme is very clear and unmistakable. Then variations begin and things become much more complicated. The theme is harder and harder to hear. Before long, it seems that the theme is entirely gone and that all is chaos. But, if you listen carefully, the theme can still be heard, sounding in the background, holding everything together and giving it direction.

So it is with God’s grace. A divine grace so abounding, so abundant and manifest in the birth of Jesus Christ, that the rocks themselves break out in joyous praise. As the last book of the Bible announces, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever,” (Revelation 11:15).

This Advent 2020 as we struggle with a pandemic and economic uncertainty, perhaps our prayers might be so attuned to God’s grace that they still resound: 

Gracious God, open our hearts and minds to the abundance of your grace and mercy.  Enable us, we pray, to lift our voices with praise as the whole creation glorifies you. Amen. 

Rev. Dr. Gary S. Eller
President, Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation
Omaha, Nebraska

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