Saturday Book – One Thousand Gifts – Part 3

Here is a link to part 1.
Here is a link to part 2.
We take up Chapter #2 this time. Chapter 1 was the writer’s confrontation with her lost or sad state. It also starts to ask the questions if anything else is possible. Chapter 2 in my mind asks the question: Where does it start? If I have been brought low where does the outward spiral of grace start? The big protestant theological word is Justification – How am I made just or righteous. But I like AV’s journey or life metaphors better. If you are a Protestant you have lived in the hegemony of legal metaphors – “declared righteous”. It is not that this is wrong, but as a pastor it feels like that metaphor is tired. It is fighting the last war. AV’s life metaphors are better for today.

I. AV’s p 26-27 – “For years of mornings…or in empty nothingness”
So what is the start of grace? Reflecting on the graphic of the last post, when does the inward curve stop? How is AV describing that end? What did you think when you read those words?
Part of my understanding of One Thousand Gifts is its deep connection to the universal Christian story. Post #1 listed some of those. So I bring some secondary material to show this every now and then. This chapter has a great parallel in Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. Luther’s HD #18 – “It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.” How is AV at that point?

II. AV’s p 31-32 – “All my eyes…reads ‘eucharisteo’”
What is the key to grace for AV? What unlocks the heart or the head? Where does one “see” God? (NB – Luther joked about discovering the gospel in the same place (in cloaca). I don’t think that AV’s toilet brush is an accident.)
Is the juxtaposition of toilets and bread jarring? (C/R John 6:51-66, what’s he talking about? )
Where do we see God right now? What is the sacrament of: Grace, joy, thanksgiving (p33)?
There is a strong sacramental theme in AV’s book. The sacrament itself is eating and drinking the body and blood. Grace can be offensive. It is worth pausing to think about how grace can offend, and when one is ready to give thanks for it.
Go to AV’s p 37 – “But I wonder it …fulfilling life?”
What is AV’s initial understanding of this? How is Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/Communion an odd jumble of taboos? How does it force us if we are thinking to confront our situation? How does it proclaim grace? What does it mean that God is present – even here?

III. AV’s p40 – end of chapter – “The act of sacrificing…”
Talk about how a sacrifice is a breaking of the inward curve to an outward life.
What do you think of AV’s last question? Are there times when we might be more open to saying “yes”? What comes first? What is answering no? Is saying yes the end – is it just a point in time, or does the “yes life” continue? How do we live Eucharisteo?

It is here where the modern protestant understanding of grace is seriously handicapped. It has too often taken the legal metaphors of declared righteous as doctrinal taboos that exclude other biblical ways of talking about the work of grace in our lives. AV wants to live Eucharisteo, not just be satisfied with a mental understanding. Chapter 3 next time will pick up on this theme more fully. If chapter 1 is the end of the rope, and chapter 2 is the beginning of grace, chapter 3 is – How does one live grace?