Fletcher of Madeley (1729 – 1785), a great friend of John Wesley (1703 – 1791), was, at a time during his life, able to help government in a special way.
Anxious to rewards Fletcher for his service, they sent a representative to his home to ask him if there was anything that he wanted.
His reply was something of a surprise, “I want nothing” he said “except more grace”.
There was nothing more that the government had that Fletcher wanted. All that he longed for was more of God and his love.
I wonder what we would say if we were put in a similar situation.
Another associate of Mr Wesley was John Newton (1725 – 1807), the former slave trader, turned vicar, abolitionist and hymn-writer, who through his changed life, preaching, teaching and writing, was able to give expression to this grace that Fletcher so longed for. He called it amazing, sweet, saving, seeing, strengthening, onward leading, fear relieving, home bringing, through the writing of one of the best known hymns ever. The words of this hymn can be found in Singing the Faith 440.
A later contemporary of Fletcher, Wesley and Newton was the novelist Jane Austen (1775 – 1819), who wrote this prayer asking for grace.
Grant us grace
To address You with our heart as well as our life
To find You
In strange places, as well as the expected
And to wait for you
In the secret sigh
As much as the song of praise. Amen
The need to ask for, or desiring for God’s amazing grace is as strong today as it was then.
Amazing grace — how sweet the sound --
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
God’s grace has taught my heart to fear,
his grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
God's grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
And, when this heart and flesh shall fail
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
a life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.
(John Newton, Singing the Faith 440)
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.