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Grace is enough

While pondering grace, which seems to be the theme of the second chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, I keep being brought back to a prayer attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius wrote the Suscipe (to receive) prayer: Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will -- all that I have and possess. You, Lord, have given all that to me. I now give it back to you. All of it is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for that is enough for me. Grace is enough. Something to remember during a season when the culture tries to entice us to want or buy more. Grace is enough. The Ignatius prayer has resonance with an opening prayer at a retreat I attended over thirty years ago: Help us to see, O Lord, that the only thing we truly possess is the capacity to be filled by you. May it be so.


Opening ourselves to receive the fullness of God requires effort, discipline, wanting on our part. Yes, God's grace is ever present for us to receive but we must also do our part to work within this grace. We cannot just sit back and say " don't sweat it, God wants to give us His grace". "Faith without works is dead".(James 2:14-26

Dear Reverend,

How I hope to one day say with total honesty "your grace is sufficient for me." What is sufficient? When is enough enough? When do we grasp the wisdom of "it is what it is?" "I am who I am." When do we realize or come to an understanding that hardships and challenges are opportunities for transformation and growth. That success and victory is not a final destination but a starting point to share the blessing with others. Living into the knowledge of that liberty is true freedom. Engaging the circumstance is being in a state of grace that the Quakers call a sacramental life.

Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer offers us a tool to stay in the moment "accept the things I cannot change". An honest encounter with the immediacy of experience through thoughtful Christ centered engagement is all that is asked from God's children. The immediacy of experience is the nexus of a Zen moment where grace is perceived and accepted or overlooked and not received. Its like Yahweh standing outside of Abraham's tent peeking inside asking him to come out an live into his calling.

This morning I find myself comfortably inside my tent. Imprisoned by my character defects I feel compelled to jump ahead to Ephesians later chapters to critique the paradox of acceptance with the moral degradation of slavery and the lesser status conferred upon women. But perhaps the better course is to stay in the now and choose to "stay alive in Christ" by realizing the blessing to engage Paul's epistle on the 10th day of this Advent season. Yahweh calls, imploring me to put on my shoes, wrap a scarf around my neck and get out into this frigid December day. Thanks be to God for another opportunity to experience the cold of this brilliant new day.


peace and prayers to all the beloved,


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