Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz, July 7, 2021

Devotion for July 7, 2021 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:

Dear praised Saints! 

School is out! It’s summer! Which this year feels weird, like there wasn’t even enough school to have earned vacation. At least in the kids’ mind. I am aware that teachers might disagree. 

Summer in our house means plenty of time for reading. We head to the local library to sign up for the summer reading program. We count minutes read and earn tickets to maybe win a bike or a journal or a gift card. Mostly, we discover great books, and the kids boast about the minutes they spent reading.  

If you sign up for the summer reading program in my town you can choose one new, free book. Just for having signed up. You don’t need to provide your intent to actually partake in the program or to finish it, you don’t need to pledge to be honest or to remember all the stories. You simply need to show up and pick a book. 

And the choice is great. New paperback releases that are New York Times bestsellers. Every age group has a different list to pick from. 

So, I was all excited and told the kids that we would ride our bikes over to the library to get our free copies. “But, why would they gift me a book?”, Theo asked. “Because you signed up for the program”, I replied. Theo wasn’t convinced: “Sure, but I haven’t done anything yet. So, I don’t deserve getting a book.” I calmly explained that this was given in anticipation of what he would accomplish this summer. “Really?”, he wondered. “But I haven’t earned the book yet.” 

I was quite surprised and shocked about this sense of merit-rating in my incoming second-grader. Who had convinced him that he needed to achieve something to be worthy of receiving a gift? Was I perpetuating something I so didn’t want to? Maybe. 

I tried to convince him of his worthiness to get a gift even if he chose not to read a single page this summer. Because the gift is not a reward. It’s a reminder that he reads. Needless to say that my success was minimal. Until we showed up at the library and he made his choice. When he held the graphic novel about robots in his hands, his eyes were lightening up. He couldn’t believe it. Someone had decided to gift him a book just because he had come by and said yes, I want to be a part of this program. 

And I thought to myself: This is what the grace of God looks like. How it’s so hard for us to see and believe it. Until our eyes are opened by experience and relationships and connections. Until we understand what it means to be loved without works! “6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6) 

Have a summer filled with free but not cheap grace, Pastor Tia!

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