Monday, February 23, 2015

Bearing with One Another - 3. Grace First and Last

The first word for Christians is grace
The last word for Christians is grace
And every day
along the way is

This is important to remember even in Lent. Perhaps especially in Lent
when we dare to more carefully and honestly look at
the ways we fall short of the glory of God,
the ways our compassion falls short
of the perfect compassion of God,
the ways we fail to love as God has loved us,
fail to forgive as we have been forgiven,
fail to bear with one another,
fail to lead lives worthy
of the call to which we have been called.

Reciting the Great Litany yesterday, we recounted the ways we are in need of God’s grace.

I suggest there are two main aspects of grace – Delight and Mercy.

Grace = Delight

Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the meaning of life? The Christian answer to both of these age-old questions is the same – Love

As Julian of Norwich observed,
Do you wish to know the Lord’s meaning in this? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why did he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this and you will never know different, without end.
God is love.

All of creation is a gift of God’s love.
God created everything for the sheer delight of it.
And God delights in his creation.
At the end of the creation account in Genesis,
God looks at creation with delight and declares that it is “very good.”
God delights in the whole wild, three-ring circus of creation –
from sub-atomic particles to super novae
and everything in between.

And that means, on a fundamental level,
God delights in you.
God delights in me.
God delights in those we find hardest to bear.
God delights in those who find us hard to bear.
And God delights in those with whom we disagree.

As Jesus famously said of himself,
“For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish
but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus did not say God so love the world –
“except for you”
or “except for this person or that person.”

God’s love is the foundation of our very being
and he is forever pouring it out
like the shining of the sun or the falling rain.
There is nothing we can do to change that.
But we can choose whether or not to receive
and embrace that love
as demonstrated in Jesus
and live in in light of that love.

Julian of Norwich sums this up,
“For we are his bliss,
because he endlessly delights in us;
and so with his grace shall we delight in him.”
And with his grace we shall learn to delight in others,
however unbearable
or disagreeable they might seem.

When I remember that God endlessly delights in me
and am able to rest in the assurance of that delight,
I am better able to remember that God delights in others,
I am better able to bear with others,
I am better able to engage those with whom I disagree
with patience
and understanding
and forbearance

We are God’s bliss.
God endlessly delights in us.
That is grace. It is the word we need to hear first and last.

But, we know that while that is fundamentally true,
it is more complicated than that.
We also know that not everything about us,
not everything we do, is delightful.
We humans have made a mess of God’s good creation.
We have made a mess of ourselves.
We have fallen well short of the good pleasure of God’s delight.
Taking an honest look at that is what Lent is about.

That is why we need to know that other aspect of God’s grace – Mercy.


Bearing with One Another

1. Broken Love

2. A Life Worthy of the Calling

No comments:

Post a Comment