The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Grades and God's grace

My son is in second grade and recently asked me when he would begin to get “real grades.”

I know grades are new to him and he doesn’t realize how “graded” we all are in our society. About the time children reach second or third grade, they do begin to be graded for schoolwork—and that continues all the way until graduation. Anyone who inquires about how well a child is doing in school asks, “How are his/her grades?” Teens receive admission to college based on many things, but most certainly grades and scores.

After college when young people go on to a job in the real world, the grading only gets tougher. Advancement in the company depends on grading or evaluations; promotions and pay are based on performance. We live in a world that grades on the type of job we hold, the type of car we drive and the type of home we live in.

We bring this attitude of grading into our spiritual lives, too, and we struggle. But listen to what the Lord says to Samuel when he is to anoint a new king: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The Lord looks upon our hearts—and does no grading. Washed in the waters of baptism and graced in the meal and the word, grace abounds. In Christ’s rising from the dead, the gospel brings grace to us who live in a world of grading, whether you are in second grade or the second half of your life. God graces us with love—love that brings us the freedom to begin again.

This week's front page features:

Peace in Palestinian classrooms: In Lutheran schools, students learn respect and love for 'the other.' (Photo at right.)

Teach me to pray: 'We are beggars: this is true.' — Martin Luther

Crossing meanings: From discarded materials, artist portrays Christ's love.

An incredible voice: Retired music teacher makes lessons sing.

Also: Theology as idolatry?

Also: Stuff.

Also: Lutherans are OK.

Read these articles on our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann asks: "Can we keep silence?"

Kathleen Kastilahn (right) writes about water, water everywhere … but all bottled up.

Julie Sevig blogs about a year of living biblically.

Sonia Solomonson writes about bread and wine.

Check out our blog > > >

Tell us! Peace sharing preferences:

A staff blog on The Lutheran’s Web site about hugging vs. shaking hands during the sharing of peace resulted in 11 responses and an idea for a future story in the magazine. Share your opinion about sharing the peace — handshakes vs. hugging, comfort zones vs. uncomfortable zones.

Send your response to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org by Nov. 16.

Members: Respond online > > >

Take our 2008 topics survey:

Every year The Lutheran gives our readers the opportunity to help select the major issues we'll cover the following year.

Now it's time for you to contribute to our 2008 cover stories. The Lutheran staff has collected your comments and suggestions throughout the year and has used them to create a list of 25 potential cover stories. Choose 10 from our list or suggest your own.

The deadline to complete the survey is Oct. 31. Results will appear in the January issue of The Lutheran.

Take the survey > > >

Subscribe to The Little Lutheran:

We at The Lutheran think it’s important to nurture the faith of the little ones in our midst. We developed The Little Lutheran for children 6 and younger to help them learn about God’s love for them and the world in which they live. We want them to know Jesus as friend and savior too.

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February issue


Embracing diversity