INTRO TO SCRIPTURE
What makes a difference about mistakes? How do you react when you’ve made a mistake, or how you react when others make a mistake, that makes the difference! That, I suggest, is the key to inviting grace into our lives?
And needing grace in our lives is hardly a new problem. Listen as Paul the apostle writes to the newly minted Roman Christian church on this matter. Then think how Paul’s advice applies to us even today.
SCRIPTURE READING Romans 5:1-5
5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
LEADER The Word of God that is still speaking.
ALL: Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE Oops, I Made a Mistake Pastor Donna Goltry
Oops, I made a mistake. How sadly but frequently I feel that way. And you?
Yet, as Christians we know the promise that God stands ready to offer us grace, a free yet priceless gift. Are we ready and able to accept it?
“God, are you sure I can be forgiven for what I’ve done?”
Sometimes it seems too good to be true. It’s hard to accept that ours and others mistakes define us only in the sense of how we handle them. Do we give ourselves the permission to accept grace, and move on, knowing we can learn and grow from them? Or, are we stuck in our failures?
Here is what is important: It’s what you do when you’ve made a mistake, or how you react when others make a mistake, that makes the difference!
I’ve heard powerful testimonies about grace and forgiveness– and how it changes our lives for the better. Even last week during a time of sharing in the Celtic Christianity class, we heard some very powerful testimonies. I won’t reveal details because they are not mine to tell. But, let it be noted, we saw some tears of joy from the power of grace.
Mistakes come in a range of sizes and shapes.
- Big ones that can be life threatening or change the course of a life.
- Little ones.
- Ones that come from carelessness or meanness.
- Ones that come from trying to get even with someone who may have hurt us or trying to do better than someone else.
- Mistakes made out of oblivious. Unintentional, but mistakes nevertheless.
Oops I made a mistake!
Are you one who admits it when you do?
Or, do you try to cover it up?
How can we learn and grow from our mistakes?
Ginger Rothhaas, a counselor and minister at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS, talks about practices she says, “help us find more ease in being human.” MORE EASE IN BEING HUMAN!!! She says we begin by knowing that we are going to make mistakes. Then she offers some guided reflection of tips on how to handle and get beyond them. Here are questions for reflection Rothhaas poses.
- Are mistakes allowed in my life?
- How do I feel the moment when I realize I made a mistake?
- What are my behaviors after making a mistake? (do I lie, blame, take responsibility, quickly correct, reflect)
- Do I feel differently with small mistakes verses large mistakes? What about private verses public mistakes?
- What does it mean when I make a mistake – does it say something about me as a person?
- When someone else makes a mistake – is it no big deal or a very big deal to me? How do I behave in that moment?
- Do I expect perfection from myself and others?
I love these questions, because they cause each of us to think more deeply about how we handle mistakes we make. 
She also talks about the life-defining consequences that can come from how mistakes someone made as a child were treated. If someone grew up being blamed and punished for mistakes, the tendency might be to hide them or blame others. And to continue this pattern in their own lives.
I thought about this notion: the person who hides or who blames others for their mistakes is shortchanging their own lives.
A man called me to ask, would I preside at a graveside funeral service for his father. It would only be a few people, mostly family. As is my practice, I wanted to know more about his father. What came spilling out was a horrific account of the childhood he had endured. For whatever reason, he had been the scapegoat of his family. Verbally and physically abused by his father as a small child. Folks, details so horrible, I shudder to recall.
But here he was, seeking the ultimate favor for his father, a decent burial. While it was clear he could never forget how he had been mistreated, he had grown to understand his father as a flawed individual and to forgive his father’s mistakes. He was trying, as best he knew, to move beyond his childhood of being blamed and punished unfairly. He, alone, in the family seemed to choose grace and move on.
What of someone who grew up in a family system quite the opposite, one where mistakes were seen as a path to growth rather than punishment? Ginger Rothhaas’ asked the question this way: “How did past mistakes uniquely prepare you for where you are today?” She retold of an interview in the magazine Inc. with Sara Blakely. Sara is the founder of the very successful company, Spanx. 
Sara’s father celebrated mistakes. As a child, he would ask her once a week “What did you fail at this week.” He wanted to know this more than how many A’s or soccer goals she made, and after she would tell of her mistake, he would “high-five her and smile with pride.” She said,
“I didn’t realize at the time how much this advice would define not only my future, but my definition of failure. I have realized as an entrepreneur that so many people don’t pursue their idea because they were scared or afraid of what could happen. My dad taught me that failing simply just leads you to the next great thing.” 
In 2012. Sara had become the youngest self-made woman billionaire.
Two very different stories. One man chose to forgive and move beyond the mistakes of his father. Sara Blakely learned from her father to celebrate mistakes as the way to grow.
These opposites show the importance of how we handle mistakes of ourselves and of others around us.
As I said earlier, it’s what you do when you’ve made a mistake, or how you react when you see others have made a mistake, that makes all the difference!
When we give ourselves and others a little more ease in being human, allowing them and us to make mistakes and grow from them; we are embracing grace like God promises for us and acting it out in our own lives. Amen.
 Ginger Rothhaus, Practices to help you find more ease in being human: making mistakes, May 23, 2023, https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/ginger/FMfcgzGsmhcLMhGcCTgKSKsWzJnxdSn
 Ibid., interview from INC. magazine.