THE MEANING OF GRACE
As a Protestant chaplain to women incarcerated in an urban county jail, I listen to stories of many faith journeys. It becomes necessary to capture the essence of faith in a way that allows you to keep your own spiritual integrity and, at the same time, be respectful of those who journey different or parallel paths. It is not an easy process. I am often asked to describe the words of faith: questions like, “What is grace?” Here are the winnowed words of faith that describe grace for me. This is what I believe.
Grace is the ultimate power of goodness and love; a transforming power which we call God. We are recipients of grace when we claim its source and offer ourselves as transmitters of its power to the world in which we live.
Grace brings the gift of compassion. With it comes a new vision of all of creation as sacred. We are aware of the constant presence of God and our very breathing becomes a prayer. We answer God’s call to be a blessing to the world.
• We forgive ourselves and others.
• We find courage to make amends.
• We are empowered to do justice and love kindness.
• We create communities of safety and prayer in which we find companions for the journey.
• We welcome the stranger and love our enemies.
• Pathways are cleared by which we bring comfort, forgiveness, healing, safety and peace to places where there is poverty, hunger, war, violence, pain, guilt and injustice.
• No matter our life condition, we fly like eagles and run without weariness.
Christians find their vision of grace through the man Jesus, but the power of goodness and love transcends any messenger. To live with grace is to find the peace and joy that that comes only from the surety of knowing who we are, to whom we belong and that which we are created to do.
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