I have a new ritual, a useful one I think!
As an ordination present I was given a mug. Inscribed on the inside rim is the following verse:
‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need,’ (2 Corinthians 12, 9).
Each day begins with substantial amounts of tea supped from my ‘ordination mug.’
Each day, therefore, also starts with a reminder about the sufficiency of grace – God’s gift of himself freely given.
Grace is God’s currency. But for the modern mind it is an unusual form of currency; for it can’t be exchanged, hedged against, bartered or used as a medium of exchange. Grace is simply a given!
Grace is ‘indiscriminately invaluable.’
Indiscriminate because it is freely offered to all.
Invaluable because it lasts forever and can’t be traded. Grace, unlike material goods, transcends mathematical valuation.
Grace bears no correlation to merit, worth, success or failure. Grace is correlated to mercy, not merit. If we wish to fully accept God’s grace we need to do so with humility, aligning ourselves with the tax collector,not the Pharisee. We need to be able, with all sincerity, pray the Jesus Prayer: ‘Lord, have mercy on me the sinner,’ (Luke 18, 9-14).
Grace asks an important question of us: ‘How do you regard others?’ One of the purposes of grace is to remove all false category distinctions: Greek versus Jew, Male versus Female, Able Bodied versus Disabled (more on this next week) etc.
Grace becomes the highway into peace and unity; heaven in other words!
Hell by contrast can be thought of as an enduring and eternal ‘graceless state.’
The state of hell might be a bit like being forced to live in an eternal parody of the famous Two Ronnie’s ‘ I look up to him, but down on him’ sketch (YouTube it if you haven’t seen it). The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16, 19-31) bears this out.
In Hell we never find our true, and highest identity, because we remain overwhelmingly concerned with merit; league tables, and our position in them, are the primary tool of analysis.
Grace invites us to find our true identity as sons and daughters of God, indiscriminately loved and infinitely valuable.
Grace, not merit, has become for me, something of a mantra, and each day it starts with a cup of tea.