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Grace Is Enough - Enough Grace

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(c) 2014 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
Last week, we began a journey to unpack the multifaceted term, Grace.  In theology, Grace is the unmerited, freely given favor and love of the Divine. Grace is the Spirit of the Divine within us, strengthening us. Grace is a virtue divinely given. 

In the secular realm, grace can be a form of beauty, a means to forgive or show mercy, a moral strength or a prayer before meals. 

Multifaceted, Grace appears to be something to everybody. In unpacking the meaning, lets begin with one of the terms, "sufficient Grace," that comes from the Christian Bible

(2 Corinthians 12:9) "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' "

What does this term mean? What is Sufficient Grace? 

Encyclopedia.com tells us that sufficient grace is:

"a division of internal actual grace, sufficient grace is used in two senses: (1) grace that gives sufficient ability to perform a salutary (beneficial) act, p…

In High-tech Society, Is Grace Still Amazing?

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Photo Credit (c) 2017 L.M.R. Neas
Of late, I have been pondering a very old-fashioned concept - that of "grace."  Growing up in a parochial school neighborhood, the idea of grace was something discussed in school and referred to often during the day. I remember phrases like, "By the grace of God..." or "His only saving grace is..." and "But for the grace of God, go I!"

Today, people don't seem to refer to grace in quite the same way. Why, I wonder?  

Perhaps, the exodus from churches is one reason, or maybe the advancements of technology have caused people to put grace on the back burner. I have no answers for it. However, I do know with my entire being that grace is real, that we still have grace in our lives and that grace, like love, never dissipates.  

This "knowing" has called me to write about Grace. (I am capitalizing it because I want the word to stand out in our minds.)  Grace is multifaceted.  There is the Grace of sufficienc…

Conversations, Prayer and Connections

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Marcello Casal Jr./Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons
As I was searching for a topic for my post this morning, I happened on the transcript of a conversation I had had with my oldest granddaughter, Addie, when she was not quite three. (She is now 13!) The conversation is simple, yet, speaks volumes!

"Hi, Nanaaaaa!"

"Hi, Sweetheart! How's my girl?" 

"Gooooooood!" 

"Did you have fun today." (Dead silence, but the sound of movement. Prompted by my daughter, Addie finally answers.)

"Yes, I made a snowman with two eyes and a nose." 

"How wonderful!"

"I love you, Nana!"

"I love you, too, sweetie!"

"Ok, later gater, drive safe, go slow, careful, don't fall down. (kiss, kiss) Momma, it's your Mom!"

Ten years later, I can talk to my youngest granddaughter, Ellie, who is about the same age as her cousin was all those years ago, via Skype.  Our conversations are equally as endearing and, when viewed w…

I Believe in Pink

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Gardens of the World - Audrey Hepburn  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0221199/

I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.  I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.  I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.  I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.  I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.  ~~  Audrey Hepburn ~~
"I believe..." These words begin professions of faith for many around the world. When we believe something, we know it...in our hearts and minds. Let's take a look at what Audrey is saying here.

In this profession of belief, Audrey Hepburn, captures our attention by beginning her litany with, "I believe in pink."  What does that mean? Perhaps, she is telling us that when something is pink, it is fresh and new and alive...like a newborn.  Or perhaps, it is simply her favorite color.  In which case, I would say, "I believe in purple!"  Whenever I see the color purple, it m…

A Child Is Born

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 Mother and Child (c) 2018 Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
"Unto us a child is born." - Isaiah 9:6 Years ago, in the church of my childhood, I first heard these words said during Midnight Mass. I wondered at the time why the Babe was being born "to us." But, as is the habit with children, I didn't ponder the point for long. In fact, I didn't think about it again, until the following year, when the grand announcement was once again given.
So, why does the prophet use these exact words? A half-century later, I believe it is because in cultures around the world, the birth of a child is not simply celebrated by family, but also by the community. A baby is evidence that life continues. Regardless of what horrors the child might be born into, the child's birth brings hope that Love will triumph.
A child is born someplace in the world every quarter of a second - that's four babies per second! Humanity, despite all the pain and suffering, all the wars, all the hate…

Waiting for Peace

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Photo Credit: Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

For many of the holy times we celebrate there are times beforehand that are for preparation, reflection, as well as for hope and healing. The season before Christmas is called Advent. This is a time during which Christians prepare to celebrate for the birth of Jesus. 

During this time, many homes and most churches light the four candles (three pink, one purple) of an advent wreath. As each of the four weeks before Christmas begin, a new candle is lit. The light of the advent wreath reminds Christians that Jesus is the "Light of the World." Not coincidentally, the first candle lit symbolizes hope. 

With Hope, we can move forward through dark times. With Hope, we have the strength to carry on, even in the face of great pain and suffering.

The following week, the candle that symbolizes Faith is lit. When we have Hope, our Faith in something bigger than ourselves grows.

Joy is the symbol of the third candle. Joy comes when we have Hope and …

Creating Hope

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Angels: symbols of hope, safety, enlightenment Photo Credit: (c) 2018 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

As I decorated for the holidays, I became acutely aware of the many symbols I have found comfort in over the years. Symbols that belong to the stories of how peace and love can be found in the darkness of hate and chaos. 

For example, after a prolonged illness as a child, when it was believed that I might die, the sister superior of our school gave me a little paper Angel to remind me that God was watching over me and sent me Angels to protect me from harm. That became a story of great importance in my life; one that, for me, was valid, real and for which I have had many qualifying experiences. But, for other people, angels are so much fluff. Some people classify angels with the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, myths told as a child that hold no real usefulness in our adult world.

Karen Armstrong, a former nun, writer and creator of the Charter of Compassion,wrote in "A Short History of Myth&q…