Holy Grace


IMG_20130325_161833Sometimes I get a little nudge that I haven’t talked about Grace in a while. This Sunday it was a BIG nudge.

On Holy Thursday night, the Apostle Peter, who my church recognizes as the first earthly leader of the Church, denied that he knew Jesus three times. As Jesus had foretold at the Last Supper.

I have never blamed Peter. Our first human instinct is to LIVE. Plus, at that point, he didn’t know what was at stake.

This was Peter’s all-In moment. Right? How many times has this happened to us, where we’re kind-of-committed to something in our lives, but at that last moment, we walk—from fear, from uncertainty, from misunderstanding.

Then we know almost immediately that we blew it. That we walked from something hard, but good. And usually, it’s only at this moment of loss that we see the true value of the thing we almost had, if only we had been all-in.

This happens so often in our lives that there are lots of sayings about it: Oh well. That’s the one that got away. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Can’t unring the bell.

In this moment right here—the Peter moment—we can make a lot of choices. We can regret, or hate ourselves for missing out, or become angry, or blame others.


Here is Sunday’s Gospel reading:

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”      (John 21: 15-17)

I swear, the hair stood up on my arms in church. Because that right there is LOVE. And FORGIVENESS. And REDEMPTION. Face to face, one by one, Jesus healed Peter’s denials.

Peter went on to become the first earthly leader of Jesus’ followers and he was so all-in that he died on a cross for his faith.

Holy Grace.

Life is full of it. There is no wound that cannot be healed, no sin that cannot be forgiven, no fear that cannot be overcome and no Peter Moment that cannot become all-in.




When an Apology is Not

Braeburns at Riley's Apple Farm in Oak Glen

Not all apologies are created equal.

As Rhett Butler said to Scarlett “”You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

I recently read an article that talked about the difference between remorse and repentance.

Remorse is when we cause someone pain and feel guilty and will do anything to make our guilt go away. It’s me focused.

Repentance is when we desire to understand the pain we have caused others, to acknowledge we have work to do on the inside and humble ourselves enough to do it.

Remorse makes us say I’m sorry for all kinds of wrong reasons: to make something stop, or go away; to distract; to regain power; to inflict pain.

Repentance gets us back into right relationship with God and the person we hurt, which is a place where true understanding and forgiveness heals the wound.

Remorse looks like a bandaid, until the next time. Repentance is a tree of life.

I guess this is on my mind because I’ve noticed a trend in apologies that seem long on remorse and short on repentance.

This was handled years ago…I can’t change the past…let’s move forward, I promise to do better…I never meant to hurt you…I didn’t know.

Other people’s sins are not our business, it’s true. But in this day of instant social media, we are privy to more information about people than ever before. Sometimes, the apologies of public figures help us decide if we can vote for them or continue watching their show or buying their products or listening to their music or cheering for their team.

We do have to judge, in that sense, the quality of their character based on the quality of their apology.

We know a bandaid when we see it.

We should look for the life-giving tree.