The Journey of Grace
When I was in sixth grade, I did not like the educational praxis of my math teacher. I informed her that she was not teaching us in a stimulating way and that she could do a lot better to make the class more engaging. When I went home and relayed the conversation to my mom, she gave me some great advice: Not everyone has to know everything that you are thinking, Mandy. Good advice, but it was not completely absorbed that day in 6th grade. I am in my fourth decade of life and I am still learning this lesson.
This week our lectionary points us toward the theme of the pilgrimage or journey. This theme saturates scripture, but does not resound with our insta-change culture and view of self-transformation. When I identify something about myself that could improve, I do not like to see gradual change. I want to master it by tomorrow. And when I fail, I wring my hands and cry, as if I should be beyond this issue by now.
But when we are “born again” as Jesus describes in John 3, we are not perfected in that moment. We wake up the next day with all of our human frailties in tact. The addictions don’t disappear. The bad habits still nag us. The emotional patterns remain. And you know what? That’s okay.
When we are “born again” we are transformed, but not into some divine beings that never make mistakes. We are transformed into people who give and receive grace, freely and liberally. This grace, then, begins to wear away our rough edges. We find space and forgiveness to start over, to stop the nonsense, to deny the cravings, to seek help for the issues. Being “born again” starts the journey, the journey of grace.