Devotion – Shed Tears

Devotion – Shed Tears

Out of his fullness, we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16).

In the song about America the Beautiful the words declare: “God shed his grace on thee…” Truer words have not been spoken. But they are sometimes misunderstood. Sometimes overlooked. And sometimes forgotten.

Grace means undeserved love. If we skip over, “undeserved” we fall into the dark hole of presumption and arrogance. We find ourselves thinking that America is great because Americans made it that way. We forget that America is nothing without God, and will return to nothing if it forgets God.

There is a current tendency by some to point to America’s past with accusing eyes. Charges are made about the abuse of slavery, mistreatment of Indians, and other white-dominance issues. We dare not cover up sin. But we also must guard against slander. When we point accusing fingers at others without knowing either the times in which they lived or the motivations of their hearts, we join in with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

We dare not ignore the magnitude of blessing that the Lord God has granted to this nation. We should not dismiss the efforts of our forefathers who worked and sacrificed to make our life better. We are a richly blessed nation. The rich blessing is the result of shed grace.

The phrase, “God shed his grace on thee…”, brings to mind an apple tree shedding its fruit. Those who stand under its branches can see the apples drop, and eat from its bounty. If it were a pine tree, if the tree were dead, there would be no apple pies.

If the questions are raised, “Where do apple trees come from, and what causes them to bear fruit?” the answer finally leads back to the benevolent Creator who caused plants to come forth from the ground and bear seeds according to their kind. A tree shedding fruit today testifies to the love of God towards those who live on this planet.

It is a gift of grace. But it pales in comparison to God’s great gift of grace. “He shed his grace on thee…” takes us back to the event of holy bloodshed.

There could be no grace for America if the undeserved love of the eternal God had not been purchased with the blood of the Son of God.

During the celebration of Holy Communion, we may have heard the older words, “Given for you…” as the body of Christ was given in, with and under the consecrated bread. As the blood of Christ was offered in, with and under the consecrated wine, the words were: “Shed for you for the remission of sins …”

This is the picture of divine grace: blood dripping from hands, from feet, and from the side, onto Judean soil.

Holy bloodshed. Sin paid for. Undeserved love.

The Lord of the nations shed his blood in a far-off land in the Middle East. The blessing it bought flowed out to all nations—even to the undeserving land of America. Even to us.

Out of the fullness of God’s mercy we have received grace upon grace. Those who sing the words of America the Beautiful today need to join in with those before us who have sung:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below; Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain, and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, MN. Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military