Inspired by Grace
Once again this week, I will focus attention on a phrase from the new Mission statement of the United Church of Christ. Our mission has been identified as a call to love all, welcome all, and seek justice for all. In the coming weeks, we will focus on each one of those.
This week, though, we look at the second condition that we acknowledge is a prerequisite for shaping us to be a body committed to the noble work of love, hospitality, and justice. That condition is expressed this way: inspired by God’s grace.
Some of our earliest sacred literature reveals that we have a heightened sensitivity to what we call sin. I always describe sin as that which we choose to do or say that threaten the health of our relationship with the creator and all that her hands have fashioned.
As humans made in the image and likeness of God, one of the divine attributes we embody is living with a conscience that often triggers feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. Those can be heavy burdens to bear. What an active conscience produces is a deep recognition of how willful acts that damage relationships disrupt God’s vision of Shalom. That recognition leaves us wondering about how God will respond to us.
What has been consistently expressed by those who relate to this God is really quite remarkable. When humanity deals with the consequences of bad behavior and destructive tendencies, it leans toward anger, jealousy, revenge, punishment and betrayal. These responses deepen the wounds inflicted in the relationships we cherish.
God offers a very different approach to dealing with these wounds. It is in relationship to the sacred that we come to know the power of unbounded love, forgiveness and grace.
Jesus came as an expression of the divine, an embodiment of all God wanted us to know about what love in action looks like. It was Jesus who reminded us that the love God envisioned invited us to forgive not 7 times, but 70 times 7 times – a metaphorical way of saying, ‘without limit.’
This wasn’t just a way of saying we should orient ourselves toward grace. It was also a way of suggesting that we do that in order to embody the love God intends for us. Relationship with the Creator is always challenged by the limits of our human frailty – but never by the manner in which the Creator responds to us. As Paul wrote in Ephesian, we are saved through grace by faith.
As we challenge ourselves to share a mission to love, to welcome, and to seek justice it is in knowing that we hold in common a state of grace that we find our inspiration for this mission.
What joy it brings to know we are loved not in spite of our short-comings but because of what the Creator chooses to see in us that is found lovable and forgivable. Beginning our shared mission with this knowledge inspires us to offer love in a state joy, hospitality in a state of grace, and justice in a state of hope.
I pray that you have found this state of grace.
I pray that your walk with the sacred inspires you to exchange love, to offer hospitality, and to seek justice. Let this be the pathway of your choosing as you continue your journey Into the Mystic.