Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent 2017

Pastor Kathleen O’Keefe Reed offered this sermon on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at University Lutheran Church. It explored the theme of “costly grace” in the paintings Unnailing Jesus from the Cross by Carl Gustaf Nelson and Mother and Child by Marc Chagall.

Texts for the day were:

  • Exodus 17:1-7
  • Psalm 95
  • Romans 5:1-11
  • John 4:1-30

This excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship was also read at the beginning of the service:

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which has to be asked for, the door at which one has to knock. It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—’you were bought with a price’—and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did, indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 45.