The infamous "Bush Fish" -- the President's name surrounded by the Ichthys symbol, a bumper-sticker exercise in pseudo-Christian nationalistic idolatry that's almost breathtaking in its awfulness -- has come in for some harsh and necessary criticism from my fellow citizens in the blogosphere, especially in this week when many of us who claim Christ as Sovereign have been reading Matthew 28:16-20, where he declares his authority over all things. If Jesus is Lord, then Bush...or Dean...or a particular political ideology...or a particular ecclesiastical institution...or Wall Street...or Madison Avenue...or the little highchair monarchs throwing tantrums in our psyches...can't be. (Speaking for myself, and what happens when I try to be my own sovereign, it's good not to be Queen.)
I was going to add my voice to the critics of the Bush Fish...but as the week progressed I found myself less and less able to speak from a position of moral rectitude. For one thing, I got involved in angry, sarcastic, ad hominem arguments elsewhere online -- a duking-it-out for truth and justice that turned into a petty bout of neener-neener-neener. I even found myself becoming a bit high-handed with people I consider friends. And I became short-tempered, defensive and petulant at home, saying things in a tone that I shouldn't have. All of which led to a feeling of unsettled not-quite-rightness; but I didn't really get it until I read the Sabbatheology commentary on the Gospel text linked to above, from the Crossings Community, where Lori A. Cornell describes Jesus' commissioning of the disciples as his empowering them to give grace away -- to give love, mercy, forgiveness away -- as he does.
Giving grace away. How many Christians lusting after temporal, political power understand what Jesus' delegation of authority in this text really means? How many of them want to use whatever power and influence they have to give grace away?
For that matter -- how many times did I give grace away last week?
Why is it so hard to give grace away?
A few weeks ago a pastor in one of my lay ministry trainings hit the nail on the head: If you don't really embrace the grace that's been given to you, you can't pass it on -- because you don't really believe you have any to give. You become defensive; rigid; grasping.
This morning during the Eucharist I heard the "for you" with more clarity; The CEO giving me yet another opportunity for a do-over. Afterward I prayed: Help me with this grace thing. Help me appreciate the grace I've been given, so I can give more of it away.