Sunday, April 14, 2013

Musings on Gifts and Grace

Today's adult forum at church provided an opportunity for us to delve into the subject of grace and the receiving of gifts - how would one respond when given a gift?

Response number one: "Thank you."

Response number two:  Take the gift and pay it forward, "re-gifting" it to someone else.

The question that I didn't ask was to bring up a third option, from the perspective of a person who doesn't recognize that grace is given freely by God - "What did I do to deserve this?"

And there's the subject of the old saying, "There but for the grace of God go I."  Our rector said the simpler, more accurate thing to say is, "There go I."  In the first, there is a thread of judgmentalism - if I didn't have God's grace, look at the mistakes I'd be making, like that guy over there.  In the second, there is the recognition that we do make mistakes, just like that guy over there.

But isn't there a third way to look at this?  By changing two words, couldn't we completely change the direction of the comment?  "There, BECAUSE OF the grace of God, go I."  This would be an acknowledgment of the gift we've been given, and a sign to us that this grace is leading us in a new direction - giving us a new hope, a new purpose, a new sense of the immensity of God's gift to us and perhaps even the recognition that, instead of recognizing the grace we've been given and saying "I'm glad I'm not him," we take that grace and give it as a gift to someone else.

Someone who will say, "Thank you."

Someone who will take that gift and pass it along to someone else.

And yes, even someone who might even question, "What did I do to deserve this?"