Effort Is Not the Opposite of Grace

Richard Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline:

There’s a back and forth—there is a role that we play in our relational life with God. That role is, as Paul puts it, that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice.

Now, how do you do that? I’d say primarily—not exclusively, but primarily—through the classical disciplines of the spiritual life. That’s how we offer the mind, the heart, the spirit, the body before God. Then, at that point, the disciplines have come to the end of their tether. There is no righteousness in them at all—none. They just allow us to place ourselves before God. The grace of God steps into that and begins to do work we can hardly imagine.

The point of this is that I cannot change my own heart. I cannot change anybody else’s heart. That isn’t my business—that’s God’s business.

Source: Richard Foster: Effort Is Not the Opposite of Grace | Christianity Today

I believe in angels

Today, we celebrate St. Michael and all angels. In a particularly dark, challenging time in my life as a child, I had a vision of an angel. It was a split second, hardly even a moment, but I remember it vividly. I was doing homework, alone in my family’s apartment living room. I felt that feeling of someone watching over your shoulder, so I glanced up and caught a glimpse of a figure in a white robe (much like an alb) with long, curly black hair and face so bright and bursting with light that I couldn’t make out any features.

I can’t explain the assurance I received from that God had not abandoned me, that he was with me, and was watching over me.

From The Book of Common Prayer:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Niceness is not kindness

In fact, “niceness” is often the enemy of kindness. “Nice” is often code for “avoiding conflict” or “passive-aggressive.” Now, speaking ill of others, or speaking in insulting, mean ways is always wrong. Civility is essential. But leaders cannot fail to name the issues simply to avoid embarrassment or hurt feelings. There are worse things than embarrassment, and it’s impossible to lead while obscuring the obstacles.

In the Church, especially, Love can carry us through the humiliation, through the pain, through the discomfort of opening addressing what we’d rather not talk about.