Christian doctrine stands on God’s grace. “Faith is a living and unshakeable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a person would die a thousand deaths for its sake” (Martin Luther).
It was a delight to recently meet Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). She graciously agreed to be interviewed in the midst of the Christmas tree lighting festivities at Bethany Beyond the Jordan in December.
As a candidate approved for ordination in the ELCA, I had the opportunity to ask Bishop Eaton her thoughts about grace. While I’m sure she gets this question quite often, she shared a wonderful story that I found helpful in feeling grace rather than intellectualizing it. Having recently graduated from seminary, I believe that we seminarians are often are working hard to get our “definitions and terms” down pat before we graduate. But how can one possibly define the Divine’s action in the world? It is likely not possible to define it fully or adequately, but there some ways we can attempt to get at the heart of it.
Over the past six months, I have been working on the Graduate Preaching Fellowship project, focusing on global women leaders in the church. In the course of the questions, I have taken the opportunity to ask the nearly 50 interviewees, “How do you define grace? How have you experienced grace?” What would you say?
In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll be sharing their insights on this question and others. I hope you’ll experience grace in your life and that you’ll share your insights with others too.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NRSV)