There are many good and necessary words in my theological vocabulary. The word “love” goes without saying, but goodness knows it needs to be said nowadays. Speaking of goodness, I would add good. Mercy, justice, and steadfast are all important words. Sin too, and with it forgiveness. As I reflect over a theological vocabulary, there are many, many words that come to mind. What words would you add?
If there was only one word to sum up the entirety of my own working theology, it would be this – grace. I am not sure when this word became THE word for me, but somewhere along the path it laid claim to my loyalties. While there is no candle on the Advent wreath dedicated to grace, there ought to be and we ought to light it daily.
Grace means gift. It is a gift freely given that comes without merit or works. All of my life I have been blessed with gifts that I did not deserve, nor ask for. I was born in a part of the world that gave me privileges and opportunities. My father and grandparents loved and provided for me; church nurtured me; and teachers who…well, they tried their best! All of my life I have been blessed with gifts that I did not deserve, but gratefully received.
This is not to say that all of my life has been idyllic or charmed. I grew in a divorced home. Growing up on a farm meant that much of the time we had very little in the way of luxuries compared to my friends. My grandfather died unexpectedly and young (59).
It is what I have been given and not what I do not have that I choose to call Grace. Too often, I am afraid, I see what I have missed, or what I am denied, and find it tempting to succumb to resentment or worse, a sense of entitlement.
Do you know God’s grace? The kind of grace that reaches deep into your life in a way that you know all of life is a gift; a wondrous, marvelous, and sometimes troubling gift. One of my favorite rock bands is U2 sings about grace in song by the same title:
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty
Grace finds goodness
One of the big graces I have experienced throughout my adult life is the grace in sharing my life with others. And when you have been given a gift, a grace, the appropriate response is to say “thank you.”
Thank you for being a part of my life.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage. (Psalm 16:6)
Check out the following YouTube to listen to U2 sing “Grace”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zk26KXSH3g