By Lynn Jones
Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley until his death in 1977, annually attracts over thousands of visitors. Paul Simon wrote and recorded the song “Graceland” in 1986. In the song, Simon carries his son and others with him on a journey to Graceland. As Simon and his group make their way toward Graceland, several times he uses this line: “I have reason to believe that we will all be received at Graceland.” It sounds to me a lot like the gospel of grace.
Arthur Gordon told a story from his boyhood. Each year in the days before Easter, his parents would give his sister and him a little cardboard box that was called the “mite box.” In the days leading up to Easter, the children would put money into the little offering boxes to be taken to church on Easter Sunday and given as their Easter offering.
Gordon wrote, “The trouble in my case was that sometimes in moments of acute financial need, I would pry some of the coins out of my box. I always intended to put the money for God back before Easter, but I was chronically short and never did.”
On Easter mornings, the children’s Aunt Daisy would come over, eat breakfast with them, and then would always go to church with them. One year after breakfast, Gordon’s sister and he brought in their mite boxes for inspection by their parents. Gordon wrote, “My sister, a saint at an early age, had a clean box that was filled with nickels and dimes. It never had been opened. Mine was dog-eared and dirty. I looked inside at a few surviving pennies rattling about forlornly, and my father gave me a lecture. “Why are you so selfish? Why couldn’t you think more about others?”
After listening to his father berate him, his Aunt Daisy grew tired of it. She fished in her purse, drew out a 50-cent piece, and said, “Here, put this in your mite box.” His sister protested, and his father said, “It’s not right, Daisy. The boy shouldn’t be rewarded for poor performance.” Aunt Daisy just smiled, turned to his sister and said, “You’re right dear. It’s not fair. But never you mind. God will remember how faithful you’ve been.” Then she turned to his father and said, ‘Haven’t you ever had a gift that you didn’t deserve? I should think that the cross and Easter might remind you of that.’” It is also something we are reminded of at Christmas. It is the lesson of grace–what we get that we don’t deserve.
If we were looking for a new name for a church, I have an idea about what we could call it. We could call it “Graceland.” That’s what it ought to be—a place where people could say, “I have reason to believe that we will all be received at Graceland.”
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.