Grace

At that time, says the Lord,
I will be the God of all the families of Israel,
and they shall be my people.
Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
   found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
   the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:1-3)

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:5-6)

For Contemplation

The unmerited kindness of God, the special favor, the mercy, the pardon of God is present for us regardless of our circumstances or actions. Grace is unmerited or unearned because it is unconditionally given by God and is available to us through God’s continuous presence. God’s movement is always toward us. God loved us first and it was out of God’s love that we were created, so our very existence is the consequence of God’s grace.

If work on our part produced grace, then that grace would not be freely given. Each work, or action, would coerce God to respond and in effect we would “control” God. Likewise, our love of God must come from our being out of a circumstance of freedom; otherwise our love is dependent upon our ability to act only with God’s consent. Love that is not freely given is something other than love.

Knowing that we receive grace does not leave us without responsibility or accountability. Love, as it animates our being and our actions, in order to be love, must not unnecessarily restrict those whom we love. If our love falls short of completeness, the consequences of our love produce error, separation, and misrepresentation of the highest intention, because truth is always present with the highest forms of love. Love becomes selfish when it seeks something in return. Grace expects nothing in return and is therefore an expression of unconditional love.

Prayer

God of love and grace, we turn to you seeking a way to understand all of the gifts you have bestowed upon us. We recognize that the most precious gifts come to us through no effort on our part. Help us to give of ourselves in the same way, without the expectation of anything in return. Let our thoughts and intentions be pure, acceptable and according to the laws of love and grace. In surrendering to your care may we find new ways to humbly give witness to the grace that we have been given. We treasure the trust you have placed in us through the gifts of love revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.