SERMON // Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is the most sung, most recorded, and probably the most loved song of all time.

Jonathan Aitken estimates that no other song even comes close to the number of recordings or frequency of performances, which is estimated to be around 10 million per year. It is estimated that if John Newton received royalties for Amazing Grace he would be the richest man to ever live (at least his estate would).

Not bad for a country pastor who was writing a hymn to help his small congregation take time — on New Year’s Day of 1723 — to reflect on God’s goodness in their life and turn confidently toward the future. 

Our theme for the month of June is seeking rest and renewal, and one key element of rest and renewal is taking time to pause, look back, reflect, examine your life and activity, and then determine how to move forward. 

Using Amazing Grace as our guide, on this Father’s Day, we will spend our time in worship reflecting and refocusing. Despite Amazing Grace’s popularity, its origins are generally not known and its intentions not appreciated.

For example, did you know that the original title is not “Amazing Grace,” but was “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” (This is a good example of how sometimes authors don’t always provide the best titles for their work.)

Newton wrote this hymn to be a personal tool for growth. I will spend some time in the sermon telling you the story of this famous hymn and of the author who wrote it. And then we will playfully walk through each line. 

This service will be a powerful opportunity to see God’s working in your life, gain clarity on how to move forward in confident hope, and develop a deep appreciation for one of the greatest hymns ever written. 

I hope you can join us!

*And since so many are traveling, below is the service outline to help you follow along at home or on the road: 

Opening Reflection

Amazing Grace is the most sung, most recorded, and most loved hymn in the world. And yet, its origin is generally not known and the original purpose and design are not appreciated. This was meant to be a tool for personal reflection and examination. 
(Here I will set the stage for the service and the historical background for the hymn) 

Reflection 2: A Prayer of Examen 

January 1, 1772  //  1 Chronicles 17:16-17 

Prayers of Reflection

  • daily: 5-10 minutes 
  • weekly: 1 hour 
  • monthly: 2-3 hours 
  • yearly: 4x

1. Recollection

  • Mercies
  • Sins

2. Expression

  • contrition
  • gratitude 

3. Resolution 

  • dedication 
  • resignation 

Original Title: Faith’s Review and Expectation 

  • 1-3: Faith’s review 
  • 4-6: Faith’s expectations

Key Question: How do you work times of reflection and resolution into your life? 

Faith’s Review || Stanzas 1-3 

Keyword: Grace
What Grace has saved me from: 

  • wretch
  • lost
  • blind 

What Grace Reveals: 

  • it teaches
  • it relieves
  • it appears

How Grace Guides: 

  • dangers
  • toils
  • snares

Faith’s expectation || Stanzas 4-6 

Through the uncertainty of life: 

  • promises 
  • protection 
  • portion 

In the hour of death: 

  • joy
  • peace

 At the end of all things: 

The Original Hymn Lyrics

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.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And 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;
’Tis grace hath 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.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

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