St Johns Fl presbyterian churchThere is a story about an old-time revival preacher who began his message by holding up a $20 bill. He turned to the crowd and asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He started to crumple up the $20 bill and then asked again, “Who still wants it?” All of the hands went back up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and proceeded to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Who wants it now?” Still the hands went into the air.

The preacher went on to say,” Friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To God, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are always priceless.”

In chapter 43 of the prophet Isaiah, God speaks to a people who have fallen short, time and again:

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you… For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…

Let us pray: We thank you, O Holy God, for your mercy, for your grace, and for your unconditional love. Help us to accept that love, mercy and grace that it would be ours to share – this day and every day. Amen.