Amazing Grace- Sources on Grace from Traditional and Surprising Sources
The Hebrew word “kheyn”, is derived from roots meaning, “yearn towards, long for, be merciful, compassionate, favorable, inclined towards.”
a few references:
- Genesis 33:11- Jacob urges Esau to accept his gifts; “God has been gracious to me- I have everything”
- Numbers 6:25- the priestly blessing; “May God’s face be turned to you and gracious to you”
- Psalm 119:29- of Torah; “Keep the way of falsehood away from me and grace me with Your Torah”
- II Kings 13:23- one of MANY references to grace as being saved from one’s enemies
5. Proverbs 21:10- if you don’t behave you won’t be GRACIOUS in the eyes of your friends; i.e.- you’ll be unpopular
6. Esther 4:8- Esther “made herself gracious” to the king when she went to plead with him; lo and behold!, 5:2- she was “gracious” in his eyes
7. Proverbs 31:30- from Eshet Khayil- beauty and “kheyn” are unreliable, when compared with being a woman who fears/is in awe of God
8. Psalm 145:8- from Ashrei- God is described as “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and full of lovingkindness and truth”- this confluence of adjectives is understood by some as implying that grace includes an element of patience and forgiveness
1.Grace as Communion with Nature-
“I contemplate a tree. I can accept it as a picture: a rigid pillar in a flood of light, or splashes of green traversed by the gentleness of the blue silver ground. I can feel it as movement: the flowing veins around the sturdy, striving core, the sucking of the roots, the breathing of the leaves, the infinite commerce with earth and air- and the growing itself into darkness. I can assign it to a species and observe it as an instance, with an eye to its construction and its way of life. I can overcome its uniqueness and form so rigorously that I recognize it only as an expression of the law. . . I can dissolve it into a number, into a pure relation between numbers, and externalize it. Throughout all of this the tree remains my object and has its place and its time span, its kind and condition.
But it can also happen, if will and grace are joined, that as I contemplate the tree I am drawn into a relation, and the tree ceases to be an It. . . This does not require me to forego any of the modes of contemplation. There is nothing that I must not see in order to see, and there is no knowledge that I must forget. Rather is everything, picture and movement, species and instance, law and number, included and inseparably fused. Whatever belongs to the tree is included. . . The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no aspect of mood; it confronts me bodily and has to deal with me as I must deal with it- only differently.”- Martin Buber
- Grace in the Eyes of God-
“. . . recognizing that the ego is a good manager but not a good boss, we have to ask who is the boss behind the ego in all the systems. We speak of it as a Self. This self has that longing, and inherent in it is the reduction of space for itself to make room for the Beloved. Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav speaks about this mutuality of the longing, of the individuals in prayer and the reciprocal longing from God. Filling the worshiper with love in response to that longing is due to the fact that the person who prays best is the one who is charming to God; the one who prays with Cheyn. To explore this in a meditative flash: how do I need to adorn myself so that my expectation of how God wants me to look to be most engaging and entrancing to Him, so that the infinite’s passion will flow in to me.”- Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
3.Grace in the Universe-
“Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”- Annie Dillard
4.Grace and Forgiveness/Justice and Wrath-
The greatness of our God lies in the fact that God is both toughminded and tenderhearted. God has qualities both of austerity and of gentleness. The Bible, always clear in stressing both attributes of God, expresses this toughmindedness in God’s justice and wrath and the tenderheartedness in God’s love and grace. God has two outstretched arms. One is strong enough to surround us with justice, and one is gentle enough to embrace us with grace. On the one hand, God is a God of justice who punished Israel for her wayward deeds, and on the other hand, God is a forgiving parent whose heart is filled with unutterable joy when the prodigal returned home.- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
4.Grace as Self-Acceptance-
We pray that you will have a strong & healthy body; an intellect to be valued as a continuing resource & the stamina & energy to achieve your ambitions; that you will accept your successes with humility & find God’s grace in your mistakes/shortcomings & assess them with self-respect.- Joe Pintauro
- Grace as Acceptance in General-
“Life has its way, and it seems to me now that the object might only be to learn how to be graceful, to understand the value of a deep kind of acceptance.”- Elizabeth Berg
6.Grace in Not Being “Sore-Winners”-
“The world needs more men (and women) who do not have a price at which they can be bought, who do not borrow from integrity to pay for expediency; whose handshake is an ironclad contract; who are not afraid of risk; who are honest in small matters as they are in large ones; whose ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made twenty years ago; who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion and do not believe in “consensus”; who are occasionally wrong and always willing to admit it. In short, the world needs leaders.”- Marian Wright Edelman
7.Grace as Casserole-
“Here’s another example of the difference in our worldviews. A family in my sister’s neighborhood was recently stricken with a double tragedy, when both the young mother and her three-year-old son were diagnosed with cancer. When Catherine told me about this, I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this is grace.”- Elizabeth Gilbert
Various Religious Perspectives, taken from:
- the gift of God inhering in the soul, by which men are enabled to perform righteous acts
- The undeserved favor bestowed upon sinners, a gift from God giving us Christ’s riches which we do not deserve nor can earn. (Eph. 2:8-10).
- The undeserved gift of divine favor in the justification and then sanctification of sinners. The Greek term charis, usually translated in English as “grace,” is about 150 times in the New Testament, mostly in the Pauline epistles.
- a virtue, is a disposition to be generous or helpful, goodwill, clemency. Grace is the milk of God’s Mercy overflowing to nourish the soul, yet grace is obtained only by perfect surrender, repentance and devotion, which turn the Divine Judgment into Mercy. …
- Grace is essentially a gift of God given freely and unmerited to those who have faith in him. It is particularly contrasted with the idea that people can curry favour by their good deeds. …
- unearned favor, especially from a divine source. In the Christian tradition, the gospel is God’s grace as made present to humankind in the person of Jesus Christ.
- The infinite power of divine love that creates, maintains, and pervades the universe. When awakened within a seeker by a Siddha Guru, this power leads the seeker to Self-realisation.
- is uncreated in Orthodoxy–divine Energies. Among the Latins, (sanctifying) Grace is a created but supernatural form or quality of the soul. For the Protestant Reformers, Grace is divine goodwill–God’s imputing virtual righteousness to those who remain actually unrighteous.
- The unmerited love and favor of God in Christ; hence, free gift
final thoughts. . .
- Chanah, Namesake of Grace-
The Biblical Chanah (Grace) exemplifies this quality: The priest, Eli, accuses her of being drunk. Not only does she calmly explain that she is praying, not drunk, but she then dedicates the son for whom she had been praying- Samuel- into the spiritual tutelage of the man who had so misjudged her.
- Emulating God’s Grace by Accepting Others-
Just as Jewish tradition describes God as, “El rakhum v’khanun, erekh apayim v’rav khesed. . . nosay avon, va’fesha, v’khata, v’nakay- gracious and compassionate, patient and abounding in kindness. . . forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon,” so we, who are created in the Divine image, should strive to emulate these characteristics in our relationships with others. We need forbearance from our friends, and we must demonstrate this quality as well. If you are willing to be friends only with people who are perfect, you are guaranteed a life of loneliness. There is a wonderful Charlie Brown cartoon in which Lucy says, “I have examined my life and found it to be perfect. And so I am going to hold a ceremony and present myself with a medal and then I will give a brilliant acceptance speech, after which I will greet myself in the receiving line. And then I will serve myself refreshments.” “When you are perfect”, she concludes wistfully, “I guess you have to do everything yourself- and that’s no fun.”
3.Is it Grace when I Lose?
“The Cleveland Indians won the American League pennant by defeating the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 in eleven innings in the final game of their American League Championship. They won the game and the pennant based on a home run by Tony Fernandez. Fernandez explained his remarkable and dramatic achievement to the media in this way: “I believe that the Lord arbitrated it this way. He wanted me to play for some reason. And I did.” As fate would have it, however, just two weeks later, in the twelfth and final inning of the final game of the World Series, it was Tony Fernandez who committed the fielding error that led to his team’s losing the World Series against the Florida Marlins. I wonder,” writes Dennis Prager, “what Mr. Fernandez believed about God’s arbitration after that game.” If we want to thank God for the good that comes to us, then we need to acknowledge God’s Presence when times are tough. That is the challenge of this verse. Everyone is ready to praise God when things go well, it is only the khassidim, the pious, who praise God always.
4.Grace in the Amidah-
In the Amida, we ask that the Holy One bless us with knowledge, understanding and sense. The verb we use in our request is “khanenu”- we ask that God be gracious to us. We recognize that our intellectual capacities are not only a result of our own effort; there is an element of grace in our ability to learn.
and. . . .
Grace is when your paper is due on Monday and I accept it from you on Tuesday with no recrimination.
Grace is when God lets you slide- when, through no merit of your own, you evade the weight of some heavy karma.
Grace is when I hurt you and ask for forgiveness, and you grant it immediately and totally and unhesitatingly.
Grace is when you’re driving on the freeway, you turn on your directional signal, and, amazingly, someone graciously let’s you merge in front of them.
Is it a dis-grace to want to age gracefully?
Does it say something about the Jewish emphasis on grace that, when I looked in indices of my regular references, I found “grasshoppers”, but not grace?
Rabbi Bonnie Koppell