Peace that passes understanding: sharing grace
By Rev. Layton E. Williams
Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things
and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?
Reflection: In this season of peace, the Scriptures remind us of the dangers of judging others. “You mess up in the same way sometimes,” Romans tells us, “so do you just not want God’s mercy and kindness, or what? Don’t you realize that mercy is supposed to lead all of you to do better?”
I admit that in these days, I find it hard not to judge. I see the horrific things people do in the name of security, of self-righteousness, even in the name of my own God. I hear the awful words that people say to each other. More days than not, I have at least one moment when I want to give up on literally everyone. The idea that God offers grace, forgiveness, and even patience toward everyone has me feeling like Jonah when God spares the Ninevites. Or like the Pharisee who prayed, “Thank you, God, for not making me like them” (Luke 18:11). But then I have to remember: I am like them. I say and do awful things out of anger and fear too.
This passage reminds me (and us) that God has her own ways of bringing about justice through a framework of grace, even if I don’t understand it. And it reminds us that we benefit from that grace too whenever we mess up. Knowing this, let us seek to reflect God’s grace for this world that’s so hungry for it.
Action: What do you catch yourself judging people for? In what ways do you also mess up even as you call out others? What is one way that you can embody grace in the world on this day? Resolve to do at least one act of grace and love each day.
Prayer: Holy God, help us to encounter the world through a framework of your grace. Help us to be humble in the ways we fall short and patient with others when they fall short. Empower us to seek your justice and follow your call to abundant love. Amen.
Rev. Layton E. Williams is an ordained PC(USA) teaching elder and writer, and currently serves as the audience engagement editor for Sojourners in Washington, DC. She earned her M.Div. from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas and previously served as pastoral resident at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago before entering the world of advocacy journalism. She writes primarily at the intersection of faith, justice, politics, and culture with a particular emphasis on sexuality and gender.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.