The following is taken from a sermon preached on 2 Corinthians 13:12 [“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”] by Archbishop Michael Ramsey at Trinity Church, New York City, on Sunday, October 14, 1962. Go HERE to read the full sermon.
Think how stupendous the words are: “the grace of Christ”. That means nothing less than the personal impact of Christ Jesus Our Lord upon us, to make us quite different from what we were before. It means that here, this morning, we have in our midst the Lord Jesus very near to us, just as he was so near to those who saw him in the towns and villages of Galilee, or by the lakeside, or in the streets of Jerusalem; and that he here and now can have the same effect upon us, that he had upon them. That is what his grace means. You know, perhaps, the old child’s definition of grace, and I think it is impossible to improve upon it:-”Grace is the power Christ gives me to make me like Himself.”
And what were the effects that Christ first had upon those who encountered him? There were some who felt very guilty on account of their sins, and he brought to them the assurance of forgiveness that lifted a load off their hearts, when he said, “go in peace and sin no more.” And if that’s you - if you are burdened with a feeling of guilt, be very sure that the absolution that Christ brings - that is, if you confess your sins and ask his forgiveness--can be real and overwhelming.
And there were those, alas, who did not realize their sinfulness, because they were just complacent about themselves; and his grace brought home to them the real state of their need, so that they could see themselves in the sight of God, and not just in the sight of their friendly and congratulating neighbours. And if that’s you - and perhaps it is - be very sure that the grace of Christ can bring you to a sense of what you really are in the sight of God’s love and righteousness, and beget in you a real contrition for your sinfulness and a longing for His pardon. That’s another thing that the grace of Our Lord can do for you.
And then there were others who were filled with sorrow. Sorrow, fear and anxiety about themselves or about their friends or about the world was in their hearts. And Christ brought to them a Heavenly peace and joy; a peace and joy which He could give as a Heavenly gift, but the world and the world’s environment could not possibly give to them. And if that is your case, and if that is your need, be sure that the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ can bring to you a supernatural joy and peace through the fixing of your will upon the Divine Will. Remember the great words of Dante: - “in his will is our peace.” And in today’s Collect we have just been praying, “grant that thy grace may prevent and follow us”. Remember that grace means the personal presence of the Lord Christ with its great impact upon you. And would that when those words come, as they do at the end of so many of our services, “the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ”, we realize that it means no less than that for us.