2010 National Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Fort Collins, Colo. — July 20, 2010
Carol Scheppard, dean of Academic Affairs at Bridgewater (Va.) College, preached for an evening service that concluded with anointing. The theme was grace. Photo by Glenn Riegel
On a more contemplative night at National Youth Conference, when hundreds would line up to be anointed, Carol Scheppard invited everyone to look at the biblical story of the woman caught in adultery–not through the lens of justice or mercy, but grace.
And she warned all they might not like what they see…. At first.
“Jesus operated out of grace,” said Scheppard, who is an ordained minister and dean of Academic Affairs at Bridgewater (Va.) College. “Grace is infuriatingly difficult for us because we have absolutely no control.”
In her message she spoke about the differences between justice, mercy, and grace. Justice is our favorite, she suggested, because the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and everyone gets what’s coming to them. It’s considered to be fair.
Mercy is different, she insisted. “If you’re guilty, admit it, ask for forgiveness, and get the results you want–no punishment.” But in this famous Bible story, the woman caught by the crowd neither denies the charge of adultery, for which she might be executed, nor does she make excuses or beg for mercy. Instead, she waits.
Grace is “downright messy,” she said, “You cannot make it happen. You cannot make it not happen.” Grace is not about us, or what we want. It’s about what Christ intends to do.
“With grace there is no victory, no accolades. Nothing,” the preacher proclaimed. All the glory goes to Jesus and not to us.
As Scheppard gave an invitation to grace, she also invited youth to be open to receiving whatever grace God may have for them through the NYC tradition of offering the service of anointing. Many youth came forward to receive anointing, a culmination of a couple of days of emphasis on brokenness, and the offer of grace through Jesus Christ.
The News Team for the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) includes photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, “NYC Tribune” guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert, and news director and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every other week.