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Grace Day 2016: 4 Quotes on the Upside-Down, Unfair, Often Unsettling, and Utterly Beautiful Gift of Grace

October 17, 2016

In 1997, after experiencing a wondrous breakthrough to deeper love in our life together, the members of our Antioch Community in Jackson, Mississippi declared every October 18 forward to be “Grace Day.”  A day to remember all of God’s wondrous interruptions in our lives.  A day to remember that if the gospel we live comes to be mostly about trying harder and doing more, it is not good news.  A day to remember to not take ourselves too seriously… and to get enough sleep.  A day to remember, as the old folks used to say in Jackson, that “God might not come when you want Him, but He’s always right on time.”

Today, on Grace Day 2016, here are 4 of my favorite quotes about grace—from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Spencer Perkins, Pope Francis, and Flannery O’Connor.  Lord knows these days we need  a dose of what they speak of.

“I think a lot of congregations have a situation where there are more people talking about God in the basement during the week; the basement of their church is more full of people talking honestly about their lives and connecting that with some kind of trust in God. I think that happens more frequently in their basements than it does in their sanctuaries. … You know what organization is not really having a problem is AA; it’s doing fine. They’re not in a crisis. There aren’t meetings in AA where they’re like, ‘How can we get people to start showing up more?’ So I think that there’s something about people speaking honestly about their lives, and sometimes, I think, church is more about pretending your life is fine, and, I think, less and less people have time for that.”

Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran pastor of The House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, on basing some of her practice on Alcoholics Anonymous

“But grace is not about being fair. We wouldn’t dare demand fairness from God. What’s so amazing about grace is that God forgives us and embraces us even though we don’t deserve it. What’s new about grace, at least for me, is that because we are grateful for what God did for us, we allow him to do the same to others through us. This means that if I know this loving God who is so full of grace, then I will forgive, accept, and embrace those who, like me, don’t deserve my grace and forgiveness.  Our willingness and ability to give grace or to forgive others is an accurate indicator of how well we know God … What I am learning about grace lifts a weight from my shoulders, which is nothing short of invigorating. When we can forgive and accept those who refuse to listen to God’s command to do justice, it allows them to hear God’s judgment without feeling a personal judgment from us. Which, in the end gives our message more integrity. The ability to give grace while preaching justice makes our witness even more effective.”

Spencer Perkins, in the final article he published

“I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father. … The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about [his wayward son], and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach. … God is always waiting for us, He never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence and hope — always!”

Pope Francis, Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013 

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

Writer Flanner O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor


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