Friday, January 13, 2006

Defining Grace

I received the following from one of my favorite parishioners:

How's it going? I have a question for you that probably can't be answered simply. I've been kicking around the idea of Grace and continually come up with different meanings. Some say it's a feeling of unconditional love. I always thought it was a time when things could have gone horribly wrong and somehow you are spared. How would you define Grace?

How would you define Grace?


Girl said...

Hmmmm...I think you can have unconditional love without having grace...but you can't have grace without unconditional love.

I think grace is freedom from a deserved punishment of sin that we all carry.

So yea...freedom. Grace is freedom.

the tentmaker said...

Grace is the gift of God that "even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

St. Casserole said...

The sweetest definition I've heard of grace is "what God does for us that we cannot do for ourselves."
Whatcha think?

Amy said...

I've lately had some lovely conversations on this topic with a young seeker who has been working to be sober for the past year and a half. Part of her sobriety has been a discovery of God, and I've been the lucky one who gets to come along for the ride. She and I often chat by email about some of the spiritual concepts she's thinking about. I thought her comments on grace were so beautiful . . . sorry about the length:

Anne Lamott says: I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. Its like teleportation - God takes us from Point A to Point B when we can't do it ourselves, and sometimes we just don't want to go from Point A to Point B, but God knows we need to so he just nudges us along until we get there.
And of course this led me to thinking not just about Grace, but
about grace. Grace = the spiritual kind, the kind that God gives
us; grace = the physical kind, the descriptive noun (graceful
being the adjective). Mainly I've been thinking about the two and
their connectedness. In my mind, grace inheres in a certain lightness
of being that allows one to float, to emanate elegance, a certain surety that minimizes stumbling and clumsiness. I think that this kind of grace has some sort of correlation to faith. Having faith allows one to rest in comfort that there is something larger, something out there that helps us, protects us, comforts us - a cosmic force to return to one of my original concepts of a supreme being before I became reacquainted with the term God. I think
that the lightness of being that is manifested through outward
physical grace is an inner lightness of being that is possible through faith. Perhaps it is possible through other things, but I know
this much: I am a horribly clumsy person to begin with, but I was
always black and blue with bruises when I was drinking, but these days
I am not nearly as clumsy, but more than just removing all the alcohol and other impurities in my system, I no longer have the heaviness, the darkness and the weight that I carried in and around me and I am able to move about much more freely or lightly. Its hard to be graceful when you're always looking over your shoulder, always anxious about something. When you walk looking behind your back, you forget to jump over that pothole in front and the next thing you know you're face down in the mud all over again. And it seems odd to say, but the emptiness, the immense vat that I kept trying to fill up with alcohol was so heavy, it was literally dead weight
that I carried around with me all the time, and to be able to replace that with a window that lets the sunlight and other things of faith, and allows room for God to watch through that window and sometimes even lets him stick his hand in there to adjust one thing or another, that window and that sunlight is the kind of lightness of being that I am talking about. To me that is grace, and it has much to do with Grace.

juniper68 said...

On January 1, of my Christmas gift daily devotions book, Thomas Merton says:
“I have been absurdly burdened since the beginning of the year with the illusions of ‘great responibility’ and of a task to be done. Actually, whatever work is to be done is God’s work and not mine and I will not help matters, only hinder them, by too much care.”
So my new favorite defination of grace is "God's work, which I will only hinder by too much care...."

HeyJules said...

My pastor once told me, "Grace is merit that God gives you for no reason and mercy is what God shows you when you do not deserve it." (Something like that!)