so my text this week for the fourth sunday in lent is ephesians 2:1-10. it contains the classic formulaic statement about salvation that we are saved by grace through faith to good works. there is, of course, wide and varied interpretation of this theological reasoning of paul's, and i intend to spend some time wrestling with all of that again this week in preparation for sunday's sermon. but i read a great little article here that reminded me that we ought not rationalize our way out of the simple truth of this text, which incidently is the simple truth of the Gospel, after all: Jesus still saves. we don't save ourselves. it seems that as much as we know that, we still don't know it. we still want to create ways where it is at least a co-op with Christ. we want to go to enough worship services, or enough church meetings, or give enough money, or say enough prayers to somehow feel that we deserve the rescue that we get. but as much as we wriggle and wrestle and work, we can never get ourselves where we need to be. the bottom line is always that we are saved by grace. which is at once a theologically thick and profoundly poetic way to say that someone saves us without us deserving it. call that someone God. and call God's son Jesus (which incidently means "he saves").
maybe this doesn't appeal to our postmodern sensitivities. we believe that there is a goodness in us (and there is, of course) that we nurture into serving our communities and our neighbors. we volunteer in soup kitchens or participate in walks for life. we run and fundraise and rock and buy popcorn and do all kinds of good deeds as part of our duty to the universe or to ourselves, but we cannot - we must not - forget that the human experience tells us that we need to be rescued. from what? from death. from fear. from brokenness. from ourselves! and we will never ever deserve it. but we get it anyway. saved by grace.