“You’re grounded!”

When you hear those words, do you automatically think you have messed up and are in big trouble?

Or do you assume the person who said it is congratulating you on your maturity and ability to maintain focus?

I’ve been thinking about this ever since church on Sunday.

Sanctuary at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Grafton, West Virginia

The sermon at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Grafton, West Virginia (this week’s stop on my Summer Itinerancy 2015, which you can read about here) focused on the lectionary reading from Mark 7.

In this passage, Jesus chides religious leaders for worrying too much about outward appearances and their own traditions and not enough about honoring God with their hearts.

The pastor at Good Shepherd shared a strong message about turning our hearts toward God; letting go of legalism; showing grace and forgiveness; and letting our hearts follow God’s direction.

From beginning to end, the worship service provided opportunity to think about whether our hearts are grounded in God’s grace.

In our opening responsive reading we confessed that we break the circle of love through alienation, misunderstanding and insensitivity when we “harden” our hearts. Together we asked God to forgive us our sins, as we forgive all who have sinned against us.

In our closing hymn we sang, “Change my heart oh God; make it ever true; change my heart oh God; may I be like you.”

On my way home from church, as I rounded the bends in the country road, my mind kept circling back to the concept of being “grounded.”

Am I striving to be grounded IN God’s grace? Or am I more worried about being grounded BY God’s wrath?

There is a big difference.

If I am worried an angry God will “ground me” for failing to follow the letter of the law, my heart is focused on me and is “far from” God.

If I soften my heart and forgive others for not being perfect, I’m grounded in God’s grace.

If I soften my heart and forgive myself for not being perfect, I’m grounded in God’s grace.

If I can boldly follow God in service to others without worrying about being punished for messing up, I’m grounded in God’s grace.

This week’s worship service felt grounded.

Welcoming. Warm. Calm. Unrushed. Thoughtful.

Having participated, I felt grounded.

It gave me lots to think about.

Do I listen to others? Do I take time for others? Do I offer others grace? Do I turn my heart toward God?

Do I act from a well-grounded heart rather than from fear of being grounded for flubbing the rules?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then I’m grounded.

In a good way.

Collage of images - "Leviticus" and "The Gospel According to Mark" pages from Bible - overlaid on a Bible cover with a small cross and a wire heart growing out of the Gospel page.


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