The world needs it. God's got it. You can give it.
Grace is the name we bestow on our daughter, the response we utter to the figure skater's flawless Camel spin, the dinner routine that quiets the guests, unites the table, and commences the meal. Grace amazes us. It saves us. It is the grip of God that protects us from ourselves.
Grace is the star of the hymnal, the country lyric, and funeral dirge.
We are called by grace, saved by grace, and grow in grace. We can run to it and fall from it. We can receive it and we can give it.
Grace is the great un-word of the church: It is undeserved kindness, unmerited favor, and the unbelievable sacrifice of God. No wonder grace was the hook in Paul's song, the tagline on his tee shirt, and the very wish of his heart:
- To the church at Rome, "Grace to you."
- To the church at Corinth, "Grace to you."
- To the churches in Galatia, "Grace to you."
- To the church in Ephesus, "Grace to you."
- To his friends in Philippi, "Grace to you."
- To the church in Colossae, "Grace to you."
- To the church of the Thessalonians, "Grace to you."
- To his coworkers Timothy and Titus, "Grace to you."
- To his beloved fellow worker Philemon, "Grace to you."
Why so much grace?
Grace flowed from Paul because grace flowed to Paul. As Frederick Buechner has said,
Grace to you is never conditional: "Grace to you . . . IF." No! A thousand times, "No!" Grace comes to you free of charge, but it also leaves you free of charge. Better than that, it leaves frequently, generously, and lavishly. That's not to say it won't cost you.
Grace was the sweet fragrance that flowed from the mouth of the alabaster jar onto Jesus' feet; the refreshing water that washed Paul and Silas' wounds; the debt-defying gift that passed from the hands of the Corinthian church to unseen believers in Jerusalem, the open arms that welcomed back the prodigal.
Grace leaves people changed, but when the change is slow in coming, a seed still buried beneath hard soil, grace keeps watering, keeps waiting, keeps watering, keeps waiting . . . .
What might happen if this very day "Grace to you!" was your theme?
- To the first person you see you offer a silent, Grace to you!
- To the recalcitrant driver on I-95, you bless: Grace to you!
- To that joyless, heartless, thankless someone in your life: Grace to you!
- To your family, your office mates, your best friend, your most troubling adversary: Grace to you!
Of course, we can't give what we haven't received, and grace is something we receive once and then again and again. So when you rise, hear the Spirit whisper to your anxious soul, Grace to you! And as you fight the current of life, or tread water, or flow with effortless ease, may you bask in the undeserved kindness, the unmerited favor and the unbelievable sacrificial love of God.
Grace is given to be given. Who, in your world, needs that prayer of blessing, that touch of kindness?
Grace to you!
"Grace is the best he can wish them . . ." from Frederick Buechner, The Longing For Home, HarperSanFrancisco. 1996. Page. 175.