Friday, January 15, 2016

The Cost of Grace: a response to the Primates' Statement in the Anglican Communion

There are only a few times when I have had my choices more resoundingly confirmed. Yesterday was one of those. I became an Episcopalian by choice, losing many friends and connections because of that choice. Becoming an Episcopal priest only strengthened those beliefs and cemented me further to my new Church. Despite any losses, what I have gained is far greater, a sense of belonging to a church that believes in an all-inclusive love by a church that chooses to make the choices to affirm and defend a gospel of Grace. The issue now is homosexuality. Before it was gender. Tomorrow will be something else.

But what it boils down to is this. Do we believe in Grace? Do we believe that God loves us where we are, no matter where that is, and does God pick us up, clean us off, and call us to be our best selves, loving us constantly and consistently through all of it? Because I can only scream YES to that question, I have to err on the side of Grace, if choosing Grace is ever an error.

As soon as we humans slap any type of caveat, exception, division or whatever on the extent of God's love and Grace it ceases to be either. Grace is what marks the distinction of our faith. Were I to preach a Grace with any limits, it ceases to be Grace. It has become Mercy, which is wonderful and powerful for those who receive Mercy. Grace with limitations is Mercy. Judaism offers a God of Mercy. Islam offers Allah the Compassionate and Merciful. But I believe in something a little bit more. Endless, ceaseless and amazing. Grace.

By choosing to censure the Episcopal Church for proclaiming and living out God's boundless Grace to all people, it shows a fear and sadness that God's love has limits. I would invite my Anglican brothers and sisters to read the Scriptures, and my prayer is that their view of God only becomes bigger, grander, and more inclusive. If not, I will not be surprised if they move from censure to exclusion in three years time. If that is the case, so be it. You see, the Cost of Grace is nothing. But that does not mean living lives of Grace is not costly. (See Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, et al.)

The Anglican Communion may choose to exclude the Episcopal Church, but I do not think that that will be the direction of this decision in the long term, and that history will arch towards Grace. Read all of Scripture, it has since the beginning. I truly believe that the God of Grace I preach, teach and believe in isn't finished with any of us yet.

Prayerfully I look forward to the prompting, leading and responding to the Holy Spirit in the days and years to come. My all our days, whatever self-declared "camp," be Grace-filled.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 1000 percent! I can't believe God puts limits on his love. This was beautifully written, Rock. Thank you for sharing it.


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Blessings, Rock