In the spirit of Stanley Hauerwas’ latest book, Working with Words, which is one Christian theologian’s exploration of language about God, I want to propose a conversation around “grace” and where we encounter it in the world. This is not a conversation only for Christians. It’s for everybody everywhere- and I’m looking for your input regardless of creed or lack thereof.
“Grace” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and I quote, is: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification…a virtue coming from God…a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace…approval, favor, mercy, pardon…a charming or attractive trait or characteristic…a pleasing appearance or effect : charm…ease and suppleness of movement or bearing…used as a title of address or reference for a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop…a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing.”
So the invitation is to share how you have experienced “grace” lately wherever that may be- even in church. If you haven’t experienced grace lately, you can share how you imagine “grace” to be.
I’ll start. The other day my family ended up, a bit bored and hungry (it was around lunchtime), at our local playground. We soon discovered that a mega birthday party for someone we had never met was about to take place. There were the bouquets of balloons, bounce houses, snow cone machine, tables of food and pony ride. All for a guest list we were not on. This was most evidenced by the fact that every person showing up to the party was a well-dressed African American carrying a large present for the now one-year-old birthday girl who would never remember this extravagant fun. In short, the whole affair was over-the-top in a wonderful, serendipitous way, and we had stumbled into it.
Needless to say, we felt a bit out of place: while the playground appeared to be still open to the public, we had stepped into a private, invitation-only celebration. We wondered whether we should go. Our kids were hoping to stay and play. And so we had lingered just a bit, all the while wondering when would be our cue to leave.
Just then, the mother of the girl walked over to me, the obvious interloper. I wondered if this was it- the time when we would be told that the playground had been reserved for the occasion and we needed to leave.
I asked her about the cause for celebration. She told me. And then the unexpected happened: “You all are welcome to stay and join us for the party. We’ll have snow cones and lots of food. Help yourselves to everything! And there will be a pony ride, too.”
And so we had stayed. Uninvited, ill-prepared but lavishly welcomed nonetheless.
Got an intelligence report on grace? You can either post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at (firstname.lastname@example.org); I’ll share it at the end of the week!