A Sabbath Meditation: Shabby Human Love & Grace

As we begin the second week of Easter–that is, if you’re one of those folks who recognizes Easter as a season, not a day–it’s important to consider what it means to live in this season.

As Christians we recognize the grace that’s been given to us, we accept the story of the Resurrection, but it’s still hard to figure out how we can actually live the story.

And some of us, quite frankly, just when we think we’re figuring it out and headed down the right path, stumble, fail, get discouraged, or plain old disappoint ourselves. But that’s when the good news becomes the Good News.

That’s when we know what grace is.

There is the grand, beautiful, unconditional, limitless love we want to give to one another, the love that bears all things, endures all things, believeth all things, the love that sees. And then there is the stingy, shabby, nearsighted human love we find ourselves giving. The aching, immeasurable distance between one and the other can be filled only by grace. (Kate Braestrup, Beginner’s Grace, p. 83)

Because grace is the thing that fills in all those gaps and makes us whole.

It makes community possible.

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4 comments on “A Sabbath Meditation: Shabby Human Love & Grace

  1. Elizabeth's Dad says:

    What a great reminder! Thanks.

    “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15) Although Paul was talking about overall sin here, it is what I say to myself often, “Now why did I act like that?”

    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks for commenting, Dad. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback. A lot. 🙂

      Upon further reflection about this whole grace-thing filling in the gaps between us when we fail to love as we know we are supposed to love, I was thinking about the news that the US had killed our “public enemy number one” and, especially, that there was so much rejoicing in the streets. Rejoicing. At someone’s death.

      Now of course I realize why there is rejoicing, why we want to feel like justice has occurred, that the war has been worth it, that our military hasn’t lost lives in vain (not to mention the thousands of innocents killed or displaced as a result of this conflict)… but still, rejoicing that someone has died? This is not the message of grace, this is not what Easter brought us or what Easter teaches us.

      My pastor wrote a meditation about the news that bin Laden was killed, and he unpacked our President’s claim that justice had been served. He wisely concluded, “human beings can bring vengeance but only God can bring justice.” It’s a great point for those of us who believe in God to remember. We are not the arbiters of eternal justice.

      “Human beings can bring vengeance but only God can bring justice.” Yes. But what’s more, “only God can bring grace.”

      Like the old hymn–Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within…

      • Elizabeth's Dad says:

        One of my nephews is a Navy Seal. He is deployed now and we are praying for his safety. That was the disclaimer.

        Part of me was happy when I heard the news of Osama’s execution. Part of me wished we hadn’t made such a fuss as it puts more of our boys in harm’s way or should I say our boys in more harm’s way.

        But I was never sad that the deed was done, I was just glad I didn’t have to do it.

        The best I have ever heard how we might separate the sacred from the secular world was through the story of Amish Grace which happened near us. One of Amish said that they forgave the man who killed their children but if he would have not killed himself, they would want the police and the courts to do their jobs. (This is totally just what I understood from the story.)

        Does a society ever have the obligation to its people to execute someone who continues to harm that society?

        I attend a ‘peace’ church although I don’t agree with each of their tenants I do want to live peacefully with all my neighbors. My church believes that if you kill / execute / murder someone and that person does not know Jesus (saved if you will) you have just consigned them to hell.

        I have had many good discussions with my brethren on this issue. Some would never raise a hand to protect their wives or children because they are sure of their salvation. One very good friend along with his wife and kids sat and prayed and talked with the men who just broke into their homes while they were there…..and the men left them unharmed.

        I am not fully convinced of that viewpoint OR execution for that matter.

        This is hard stuff to consider.

  2. elizabeth says:

    (Apparently I am not permitted to reply to a reply to a reply to a comment. Alas.)

    I think you’re right to point out just how complicated this issue is, and I think it’s one of the reasons why lots of thoughtful Christian folks I know are responding with questions and concerns to this week’s news, especially regarding the rejoicing that has been occurring.

    Nobody I know personally, as far as I’ve heard, has made the claim that Osama bin Laden should not have been killed.

    Despite my own pacifist-leaning, what is most troubling to me is the reaction to the news, and that’s what I was trying to emphasize above. Sure, we rejoice when good overcomes evil. But we also claim to believe that nobody is beyond God’s redemption (hence your church’s belief in pacifism). But I find it difficult, personally, that there are certainly no easy answers. I want easy answers, but when pacifists OR non-pacifists jump from principles into easy connect-the-dots rules of living (“owning guns is bad” or “war is just”), I am hesitant to jump behind them.

    And then there is me, the pacifist who carries pepper spray on my key chain and fully intends to defend myself if necessary.

    So I am aware of my own inconsistencies.

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I can tell you truthfully that my first response to the news of bin Laden’s death was one of relief and hope–hope that perhaps there will be a little less evil carried out in the world today than there was yesterday. It has only been on further reflection that I have found the events wrapped up in all of this troubling, especially the newspaper headline “ROT IN HELL.” Seeing that on the news instinctively made me cross myself, and I’m not even Catholic.)

    Thanks for continuing this conversation.

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