Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lent: Grace

About 13 or 14 years ago, my friend Jane's parents discovered that she was gay. During the ensuing tsursis, the mother of one of Jane's friends stepped forward with an offer: "If you need a place to stay, our home is yours."

I've never met Catherine, but she made a tremendous impression on me the day I heard about that invitation. She was under no obligation to make the offer she did. Jane had no claim on her hospitality. It was simply an act of grace.

Grace is part of the essential character of God. It's a manifestation of his holiness. It's the notion that although there's no reason for God to want to be with us, he does. He finds an abandoned baby screaming on the side of the road, and he adopts that child, cares for her, and gives her his name and his wealth.

He sees a people who are not mighty and who do not rule an empire, he places his hands on their shoulders, and says to their rulers, “These are my people, and you will not make them slaves any longer.” At every stage of the passover celebration, the people sing “Dayenu, it would have been enough.” And yet to God, it wasn't enough. He couldn't be satisfied until he had given them everything.

Grace that has been received is grace that also must be extended. It means violating the expectations of our peers and allowing oursevles to be identified with another's shame, so that their shame falls away. One can only imagine the confusion and even the howls of derision at the Council of Gods when other deities saw that God had chosen the enslaved Israelites as his people.

It's the same disapproval we encounter when we stand with protesters and say "Black Lives Matter"; when we affirm the dignity of the transgender and their right to use the bathrooms of their choice; and every time we befriend Those People, and don't let their otherness (whatever it is) be an issue.

It's always worth it.

Copyright © 2017 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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