This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Grace to you

Grace and Truth: A word for pastors

Most of us can easily conjure up a memory of disgrace: an embarrassing moment, a stressful event, a painful conversation. We might have felt that disgrace in the pit of our stomach or the clench of our jaw or the ache in our head.

Sara Dick
Sara Dick

Sometimes we bear lasting marks from our disgrace: scars on our knees, broken relationships, lost jobs, high blood pressure, ulcers and so on. We may even start to think that we’re created to be in a more-or-less constant state of disgrace, as often as we feel it.

But throughout God’s story, many witnesses testify to something else. The Psalms proclaim a grace-filled creation:

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
(Psalm 148:7, 10)

And in the person of Jesus, we see that grace is not only an abstract, intangible idea. The Gospel of John tells us, “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. … From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:14, 16).

God’s grace became known to us in a human body. Grace wasn’t just something “up there” or “out there” but something that was made flesh and dwelt among us—something tangible, physical.

A friend of mine shared with me this wonderful phrase from InterPlay, a creative movement approach designed to open up the body’s wisdom: “the physicality of grace.” InterPlay’s founders describe the physicality of grace as “a set of physical experiences describing the satisfying and enlivening state of being calm, centered, energized, alert, relaxed, etc.”

Ah, I feel better just reading that. Grace isn’t just something abstract and heavenly but something I can feel right now. God’s grace is also the body’s grace.

Ingrid Friesen Moser speaks of the body’s grace in her book Body Talk: Speaking the Words of Health. She defines health as living fully in our bodies as fully loved beings. She describes Jesus as one who lived fully in his own body, eating, drinking, resting, walking.

Jesus embodied grace and saw it in the others whom he met as he taught, traveled and worshiped with his friends. In the words of Proverbs 15:30, he knew that “good news refreshes the body.”

One woman heard about Jesus’ good news and hoped he might be able to heal her. She had already spent all her money on treatments that had not worked. When she got close enough to Jesus, she touched the fringes of his coat.

“Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:29).

She experienced God’s healing physically; she felt grace in her body. And Jesus, because he, too, knew the body’s grace, could feel God’s healing power flow to this woman. Jesus sees grace in us, too, when we come to him in prayer, in pain or in praise, and he calls this grace into greater fullness by his love and forgiveness.

Here and now, God offers diverse ways for God’s diverse people to enter the body’s grace—to live in our bodies as people fully loved by God. We may experience the physicality of grace through music, dance, stillness, sports, hiking, giving thanks, making love or food or art, gardening, singing, offering comfort or a million other things. We experience it in our gathered bodies, too—in our churches, small groups, neighborhoods and networks.

The Apostle Paul often sent a greeting of grace to the gathered body. “Grace to you,” he wrote to his friends afar. How might we share the body’s grace with one another this week or this month? How might we feel in ourselves and call forth in others the grace that God has given us so freely?

Jesus Christ,
we are your body;
you live in us
and we live in you.
Grant us grace,
grace upon grace:
each body’s grace
and our gathered body’s grace.
We have seen your glory;
we have heard your good news;
we have felt your grace.
We give you thanks.
Through the wisdom of your Spirit,
we pray. Amen.

Sara Dick is associate pastor at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton, Kan.

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