I recently read an article in the New York Times about how the phrase “Insha'Allah,” which translates, to the best of my knowledge, as “God willing,” is becoming a trendy phrase in the Egyptian culture. While it has, to some, a deeply religious meaning it is apparently being used almost flippantly by those within the community. This is not, I would argue, just a phenomena within the Egyptian community; but a problem in the Church as well. We use words that we do not consciously associate with any meaning: fellowship, accountability, community, grace.
What does the word grace mean? Miriam-Webster defines it as “unmerited divine assistance;” but what does that mean to us? The most important word, to me, is unmerited. In today’s reading we are told that sin does not have power over us because we received grace from God. We do not deserve it, we cannot earn it; but this does not mean that we should not do everything possible in order to show our appreciation for it— indeed I would argue that the very nature of grace should cause us to act in accordance with the gift we have received.
One of the ways that I think we can be mindful of the grace we have been given is expressed in the definition of grace from one user of Urban Dictionary; who defines it as “beauty, sunrises, singing birds, blossoming flowers. All those things that remind us why life is worth living.” This reminds me that all these things are not only from God, but also unmerited. We see grace in these small things, but also in large.
As St. Matthew’s begins to send people from the community on missions trips I believe that both this definition of grace, and the more official definition, take on a special meaning. It is by His grace that we are able to partake in such endeavors, that we are able to bring his blessings to those who are less privileged than us. But it is not only we who are exemplifying grace; we are shown grace by those in the areas we travel to. They bless us in ways that are hard to describe, but easy to feel; they serve us when we have come to serve them; they bless us when we have come to bless them.
May we all find the grace in our lives.