The first three weeks of my year were spent travelling throughout the LESNW region leading workshops and trialling the new Connect (previously Pathways) materials. One of the key concepts is that grace is foundational to everything we do in Lutheran schools and ECS’s. At the end of a particular session a brand-new teacher who was not from a Christian background but was keen to understand our Lutheran culture said, ‘I just don’t get this grace stuff’. I was about to answer with some kind of throw away line like, ‘Don’t worry, it will grow on you’. But I stopped for a few seconds of quick reflection and responded, ‘I don’t always get it either’.
Having been a parish pastor, a college pastor, and now as the Spiritual Cultural Leader for LESNW, I can give you a very academic definition of grace. But that’s not what this staff member was questioning. The question was more about, how do we live grace out in every day life in Lutheran education? And sometimes, I don’t get that either because the situations are so complex, the personalities involved are so strong, and there isn’t any clear way forward that won’t have some kind of collateral damage. How are we to be so gracious with people who are so frustratingly cancerous to the community?
The Church is coming to the end of the season of Epiphany, in which we focus on the teaching and works of Jesus in order to get an understanding of who he is and what he came to do. Next week, starting with Ash Wednesday we begin the season of Lent where we see Jesus journey towards the cross. Having seen how wise, how powerful and so focussed Jesus was, journeying toward the cross was still a tough gig. Although he was fully God, he was also fully human. Hence, he wept, he got hungry, he got angry, he got tired, he got disappointed. At the same time though, he kept talking to his heavenly Father in prayer and remained focussed on the cross, the source of grace for the world.
Yes, we are places where grace abounds, but sometimes we are so overwhelmed by the brokenness of humanity that we struggle to know how to practically reflect the unconditional love of the Father. It’s in these times we do well to talk to our heavenly Father, and keep our eyes fixed on the saving work of his Son, Jesus – first and foremost for ourselves, so that we are better equipped to live grace out in our everyday life.
Spiritual & Cultural Development Leader