Grace – the gift we receive that we haven’t earned and probably don’t deserve. The word itself comes from Gratia – Thanks – and is used in many different ways. We say grace at meals – say someone is graceful – have grace periods – all pointing to gratefulness and forgiveness. To treat others disrespectfully or with disdain is to be dis-graceful. It is a handy concept, because it works when speaking of God and when considering our own situations and those of others we interact with. A moment of grace can be soul-soothing; a time to breathe and regroup and be our best.

Recently, I have noticed a lot of churches with messages on their outdoor signs about grace. These congregations are ones I know fairly well, because they are the same ones who, in my experience, give little grace to those they feel are outside of God’s acceptance. These are churches whose pastors and/or members have told me personally that I will spend eternity in hell. Why? Oh, there are so many reasons! For some, it’s because I am in the United Church of Christ. Remember when columnist Cal Thomas said that President Obama wasn’t a Christian? (And former Sen. Rick Santorum – and Bob Jones III, president of his namesake school – and a host of others). Why? Because Pres. Obama was a member of the UCC and said that Jesus might not be the only way to heaven. We aren’t “real” followers of Jesus, in their opinions. 

Another reason is my (and Calvary’s) support and acceptance of LGBTQ people. It doesn’t matter how I live, what I believe, or who I am personally; the mere fact that I don’t think folks will go to hell for who they love and how God made them is enough evidence to send me to H-E- Double Hockey Sticks. In fact, the former pastor of a local mega-church purposely avoided me at a Reading Conference of Churches prayer breakfast (I waved at him and called his name twice) because he finds my theology and practice of my faith so perverse. I doubt he saw the irony in this. The very fact that our congregation (and many others) try to define ourselves by who we love rather than who we hate is enough to send a lot of “Christians” into fits of anger. I don’t understand their vitriol, but I try my best not to let it upset me. 

Grace is not perfection. Grace is not only relegated to God. Grace can be offered in the smallest of moments. We can fall from grace, but we can also get back in the grace saddle and try again. It doesn’t make us heroic to treat others with grace; it only means that for that moment, we delivered on our promise to love God and neighbor. It doesn’t give us a clear road into heaven; all it gives us, in that moment, is a sense of peace. I would rather strive for grace than ignore opportunities to show and live it. In my own experience, it has been the moments of grace that I have received that have made my day a little easier, and my load a little lighter. When we give grace, and when we receive grace, we are blessed. Find time today to be graceful. It will make the world a better place.

Prayer – We are grateful for Your grace, God of forgiveness and new beginnings. Give us the grace to take each day as it comes. Amen.

Today’s art is called “Grace and Virtue” which was designed by “a professional American artist at Metal Art Studio.”