“Every hour is grace.” Nobel Peace Prize winner and famous author Elie Wiesel said that. I’m not familiar with the context, but I suspect his definition of grace may be different than mine. Still, I can’t get the quote out of my head. It seems to capture the essence of my life.
For me, as I’ve written elsewhere, this is a season of grace. A season both on my calendar and in my life. I seem to come across grace everywhere.
I recently read a fascinating novel entitled Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger. There’s a lot about grace woven into this piece of fiction. A quote from the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus about “the awful grace of God” provides background music for the whole story.
I’ve also been working on a new retreat topic: Gritty Grace. I’ve been combing through scripture verses on grace—124 of them, it turns out. I’ve also come across some great quotes on grace. I like how Max Lucado put it: “God answers the mess of life with one word: Grace.” One of my favorite Philip Yancey books is What’s So Amazing about Grace? I remembered this recently when I saw the title of his latest book: Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News? I can’t wait to read it.
Then I exchanged emails with our son-in-law about his most recent sermon. “This one was harder to prepare, he commented. “It was on grace . . . so maybe it should be hard to understand?” Richie has a way of saying some pretty profound things in short sentences—a gift I’d like to have! But it got me thinking.
Grace is indeed hard to understand. God’s relentless, remarkable, amazing grace. Free, but not cheap. Costly grace. Oh, how it cost Him. Words from an old hymn come to mind: “Amazing love! How can it be? That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?” I resonate with Anne Lamott’s words: ”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.”
Grace: It came with Christmas. The Gospel writer John heralds its coming: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14, 17)
This is a good season to be thinking about grace. Of course, that’s true of any season. But Advent may help us focus. I’m finally reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas—way behind many of you, I suspect, as it came out in 2013. I’ve just started the book, and grace has found me again. I love how she describes Advent: “This slow unfurling of grace.” (p. 5)
Wishing each of you a “slow unfurling of grace” in the days ahead.