Grace is no animal you can track.
She leaves no trace in morning frost,
no prints in late-night snow.
She flashes no white tail in sunlit woods.
She is untempted by salt-licks or scattered seeds.
Grace is no deer, or buck, or squirrel, or rabbit,
no bird that will perch close enough to capture
in the cage of a camera lens.
She is a wild turkey, sudden and ugly,
one beady eye upon you, a flurry of claw and wing,
stripping you of all that holds you back,
offering a new chance to fly.
Grace is no animal you can track.
O extravagant God,
in this ripening, red-tinged autumn,
waken in me a sense of joy,
in just being alive,
joy for nothing in general
except everything in particular;
joy in sun and rain
mating with earth to birth a harvest;
joy in soft light
through shyly disrobing trees;
joy in the acolyte moon
setting halos around possessing clouds;
joy in the beating of a thousand wings
mysteriously knowing which way is warm;
joy in wagging tails and kids’ smiles
and in this spunky old city;
joy in the taste of bread and wine,
the smell of dawn,
joy in having what I cannot live without—
other people to hold and cry and laugh with;
joy in love,
and in all that first and last
-Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace
|—||Anne Marie Miller, “The Unexpected Face of Mercy”|
We can’t be everything to everyone. But we will be something to everyone. We can choose to live in the generosity of God’s love or in the poverty of our limitations, and it matters what we choose.
So what if you can’t go out to coffee with her every week?
Go once. Listen. Ask questions.
Maybe you won’t end up sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with that couple in the lobby, but ask them about their kids. Remember their names. Write them down if you have to.
Look at the prom photos of her grandkids that she carries in her purse. Ask about his job and really listen when he talks about it. These small moments matter too.
In the end, there is a difference between nice and kind, and more and more I am convinced that “community” is not formed by telling everything to everybody but by these simple, strong threads of love.
And it’s both: we are limited, and we are not.
We are not Lego blocks, plastic and immovable. We give the last crust we have and trust God to make it enough.
We grow. We expand. We choose to take each other in.
how much you loved, how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
A gift from a congregation member. She doesn’t even know it’s my birthday week. #grace
And two times a saint
And the quality of mercy is not strained
She would give me that look when I sang that said everything: You can make everyone else think you’re a good Christian, but I know better.And I began to believe that unless I was perfect, I couldn’t pray, couldn’t go to church, couldn’t approach the Divine.Friends? That’s really screwed up.Jesus, the rabbi who walked among us, the one who is Love incarnate, came to the most broken people, the sinners, the outcast.He railed against the religious elite of the day who were bound by legalistic rules.Can I say this? You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to keep it together.Come. Just as you, broken or healing, sinner and saint. Come with your baggage and your hang-ups, your addictions and your scars.Our God is waiting with open arms.- wren, “come and rest”
Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering
“He said this thing that really freaked me out, he said ‘You know my heart for peace and social justice is really rooted in my Christian faith.’ And I looked at him and I was like ‘Oh my God, what are you, like, a unicorn? Like, some mythical combination of creatures that doesn’t exist in reality?’ Y’know? I had never heard of this. And then soon I realized that there’s this whole group of people who take that scripture from Matthew 25 seriously, that says when we clothe the naked and when we feed the hungry we do so to Jesus’ own self, and it ends up they’re not mythical creatures, they’re Lutherans.”
“Here’s what I learned: God’s grace is a gift freely given. We don’t earn it, we just try to live in response to it. He taught me that nobody’s climbing the spiritual ladder, right? We aren’t continually self-improving. God always comes to us and makes us new, and makes us new again, and makes us new again, and it’s called death and resurrection. God’s always coming to us; we don’t make our way to God. And then he said, ‘We’re entirely saint and sinner, 100% of both,’ and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, I have an enormous capacity for destruction of myself and others, but I have an enormous capacity for kindness too; finally someone explained that to me.”
“Here’s what you need to know about what you have, this Lutheran liturgy and this Lutheran theology and this Lutheran tradition: it is a feast. And it is a feast to be shared. And I’m here to tell you, people are hungry. People are hungry, and you have a feast entrusted to you, and they are ready for it.”