We are here,

Each one of us,

All of us,

Worldwide,

To be outlets of grace.

Grace is to be understood as “unmerited benevolence.”

Unmerited kindness, generosity, compassion, thoughtfulness…

An unmerited gift of exactly what is needed,

Where it is needed,

When it is needed,

Delivered precisely how it is needed to be delivered.

That’s grace.

And, it is not a way of getting what you think you need delivered back to you.

Grace is not tit-for-tat.

It is not “one good turn deserves another.”

It is not “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine.”

Grace is not out for its own good,

Its own advantage,

Its own reward.

Grace is not a way of earning merit

On some universal scale,

Accruing credit,

Gathering interest

Compounded by the minute,

To be paid out in benefits and privileges

Over the full course of eternity.

Grace is not to be exploited in any way.

Jesus said, “When you bring grace to life in the lives of others,

Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Do it and forget you’ve done it.

And don’t keep score.

That’s grace.

Think you’ve got it?

Not so fast.

It gets tricky.

Hang on.

Grace doesn’t make you a doormat.

A Mr. or Ms. Easy Touch,

Always there,

Never let ‘em down,

Like a good co-dependent,

An enabler,

Who can’t say no.

Someone to be used up,

Taken for granted,

Thrown away.

That’s not grace.

Grace will not be taken for granted!

Assumed.

Counted on.

Guaranteed.

Grace is anything but guaranteed.

Grace is a shocking surprise.

A wonder.

An unbelievable, astounding, amazing,

Windfall.

Such a once-in-a-lifetime event

That you would never think of it happening again,

Much less regularly.

You can’t get over it happening!

You can’t imagine that it would go on happening—

Day after day,

Year after year.

That is not grace.

Jesus not only raised the dead.

He also left the dead to bury the dead.

He not only healed on the Sabbath.

He also said, “No sign will be given to you except the sign of Jonah.”

He not only forgave sinners.

He also cursed an innocent fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season.

You never know with Jesus.

That’s grace for you.

You can’t count on it.

You never know when it might show up,

Or, if it ever will.

And, when you least expect it,

There it is.

And, yet, we are all here to be outlets of grace.

In order to do that,

We have to understand:

Grace doesn’t only happen to us.

It also happens through us.

Yet, we can’t plan it.

We can’t think it into being.

Our role is to be ready, willing and able,

And get out of the way.

This makes grace happening through us

Exactly like grace happening to us.

We don’t initiate it.

It isn’t our idea.

Before we know it,

We catch ourselves in the act of being gracious—

Just like before we know it,

We catch ourselves in the act of being graced.

Our place is to be ready (willing and able)

To offer whatever the situation needs from us.

Sometimes, we raise the dead,

And, sometimes, we leave the dead to bury the dead.

Sometimes, we turn the other cheek,

And walk the second mile,

And, sometimes, we shake the dust off our sandals

As a sign against the scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells.

You never know with grace.

You never know with us.

That’s grace for you.

Be ready, willing and able,

And get out of the way.

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