Monday, January 11, 2010

WW2 story about Grace

- Image at left from the web...

Happy freezing Monday to everyone! It looks like the cold snap here around Tampa may end in the next couple of days but it's been an interesting diversion for us tropical types!

Yesterday morning I drove to Plant City to speak at a Methodist church; all the strawberry fields along the way were covered in a blanket of ice. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the growers actually run their sprinklers as a precaution - the ice acts as an insulation against temperatures in the low 20s that would be catastrophic for the crop.

The church - Trinity UMC - asked me to bring a message appropriate to the launching of a new year. So I talked about the power that is found when we live in the assurance of God's promises. All I had to do was to share a few stories.

People love stories. I began with one from the beginning of the "Grace Shatters Darkness" chapter in my new book. You can read it for yourself if you like, but the abbreviated version goes like this:

... One day, during WW2, my mum was listening and watching as a V-1 "Doodlebug" rocket traced its way across the East London sky; buzz-bombs would often fly low enough to be seen. Suddenly, the engine cut out and my granddad quickly calculated its deadly trajectory.

“Get into the shelter!” he yelled, literally shoving his family through the door.

The bomb hit directly across the street, completely demolishing three adjacent homes. At my mother’s house every window and door was blown out; every ceiling came crashing down; every piece of glass was shattered and the dining room table was thrown across the living room, almost crushing the kitchen wall. The next-door neighbor was standing behind his front entry and the door killed him - shot like a bullet shot from a gun.

Later, after V-E Day, my mother’s church started a ministry to German prisoners of war. They sponsored a weekly Sunday-afternoon reception, contributing tea and snacks from their own ration cards.

Just a short while previously huge German bombs had destroyed much of the neighborhood, people were killed, and my mother’s home had been severely damaged. But war, and the potential for hatred didn't stand a chance against grace. My mother’s church extended grace because they knew Jesus - they simply followed the pilgrim way of Christlike love.

A young soldier named Gunter found a place in the Kemp family's hearts. When he was eventually repatriated, Gunter's home was behind the Iron Curtain and my mother's family lost touch. But eventually, almost five decades later and after the demolition of the Berlin Wall, my mother - along with my dad - was finally able to visit her old friend.

“I never knew what real love was,” Gunter told them, “until those days after the war when your church reached out with God’s love to me and to the other soldiers.”

Grace is active, it is insistent, it is counter-cultural and it is difficult to understand. Grace does not allow evil to dictate the boundaries of its expression; instead, it gets up and does something that makes a lifetime of difference...

My prayer is that this week will be grace-filled for each one of us - DEREK


Geoffrey said...
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Geoffrey said...

Grace is active, she is insistent, she is counter-cultural and is difficult to understand. Grace does not allow evil to dictate the boundaries of her expression; instead, she gets up and does something that makes a lifetime of difference

That's our mum!

Love, Geoff