Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Receiving grace

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I remember the first moment I understood the concept of grace. I was a sophomore in college, and a group of us Religion majors were talking after our night class on the Bhagavad Gita (the sacred Hindu texts) and the writings of St. Paul. (I can't remember how the two went together, but apparently they did.) We were discussing grace. Actually, a couple of others were discussing grace and I was trying to "get" what they were talking about. As an athlete, I thought that grace was something that you had to work for. And work hard for. Achieve. Win. A classmate (not an athlete, and now an Episcopal priest) said, no, all you have to do is receive it.

"You're kidding", I said. "No, that's all you need to do", he replied.

At first I was a bit indignant, because I thought it should be harder than that. I thought that grace was something you went after -- not something you simply received.

That conversation was a turning moment for me. One of many conversions in the course of my adult life.

I would like to say that it was a 'turn on a dime' moment. It wasn't. While that conversation began an intention to simply receive God's gift of grace, over the years I have discovered that I regularly put up no end of barriers to thwart the receiving of this extraordinary divine gift.


  1. Dear Reverend,

    Thanks for the post. I still struggle with the concept of grace particularly after watching a few hours of Harold Camping.

    I'm of the mind that grace demands faith, watchfulness, sobriety, vigilance, engagement and acceptance.

    I believe grace is visited upon us a million times each day. Yet we perceive, understand and grasp very few moments and opportunities to live into that grace because we fail to be present as a witness and recipient of its manifestation. When it appears we need to recognize its restorative potential and accept the gift to correct our path and become whole.

    I wonder about Paul on his way to Damascus. He gets struck by a lightning bolt of grace. Yet if he had no faith as he was struck could he receive grace? Perhaps the lightening bolt was not grace but revelation. Can one receive revelation while not being in a state of grace? Certainly a question better left to medieval theologians.

    Paul certainly made up for lost time and grabbed the opportunity to live into the grace offered. His poetic apologetic "your grace is sufficient for me" has always deeply resonated within my soul as a conscious state of grace to which I aspire.


    As Paul states understanding our imperfections and weaknesses allows us to accept the blessings of grace. Hubris and pride are the avowed enemies of grace. Accepting grace keeps us rightsized in due proportion to the shortcomings of mortals standing before and reaching out to the perfection of the divine.

    Happy Holidays Beloved.

    peace and prayers,


  2. This is why we give our Thanks to God. Our God is an awesome God and loves us so much He sent Jesus to us so we may see that to live in the ways of Jesus are to live our lives abundantly
    and be raised from those things which cause death to our souls.


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