G is for “Grace”

This is an entry in the “Acrostic Contemplations.” 

“Grace, she takes the blame 
She covers the shame 
Removes the stain 
It could be her name”

I was sitting in a meeting of the university deans with the president and the provost presiding. We were discussing language for a new campaign, considering what slogan might best capture the character of our southern, flagship university. Among those proposed by the consultants was “Grace and Grit;” it was the president’s favorite phrase. I quite liked it as well, encapsulating, as I thought, both an attitude of acceptance and patience along with the determination to get through the difficult times that life inevitably meanders through. 

One dean did not like it at all, objecting that it was too religious, too theological. I commented that, as the only scholar of religion and ordained person at the table, the religious connotation was not the first thing that came to my mind, but rather it conveyed to me the importance of being a community where we would give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt, entering into debates and discussions with an open mind and a kind heart. This is, after all, what a university should be best at. My remarks were rather ungraciously knocked down. The irony, and need for grace, had never been more apparent to me. 

Grace, as U2 points out, can mean so many things. “It’s the name for a girl; it’s also a thought that changed the world.” What is at the heart of grace is the offering of acceptance, kindness, and love, without it ever having been deserved or earned. “Grace finds goodness in everything.” 

The grace of God is patience and second chances, forgiveness and acceptance. Grace is what covers our sin and makes our faith effective. Someone once said, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” We cannot forgive sins, but we can be patient, we can assume the best in others and accept apologies, we can receive and offer second chances…with grace. 

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